With Thanksgiving a week away, we thought it would be very fitting to do a Past/Present post on turkeys. From their fan shaped tails to their distinctive red throats, turkeys have been depicted in American fine and folk art for centuries. Native to North America, the wild turkey was even Benjamin Franklin’s candidate for the national bird.
Our older print comes from the first printed edition of Audubon’s “Birds of America.” This monumental work consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints of 497 bird species, made from engraved copper plates of various sizes depending on the size of the image. The work contains just over 700 North American bird species, and is a direct result of over 14 years of observation, research, and drawings by the ornithologist. Our more recent print is by Ukrainian-American painter and printmaker, Jacques Hnizdovsky. He is best known for his graphic woodcuts of animals and nature. On working with nature as his main subject matter, Hnizdovsky writes, ” It is possible that trees and animals were originally only a substitute for the human figure, and I turned to them when I realized the difficulties of obtaining human models. But if trees, plants and animals were originally only my second love, I found so much beauty in them, that they became my first.”
Image on Left: Great American Cock, Male, (Wild Turkey). Plate 1. by James John Audubon. Hand colored engraving, 1827-1838.
Image on Right: White Turkey by Jacques Hnizdovsky. Woodcut, 1975.