It was British appetite for Audubon's work that catapulted his career forward. He couldn't find a U.S. publisher.
The Saint-Domingue-born (French-citizen) Audubon was an illegal immigrant—sent to America by his father, with a fake passport.
Audubon was born Jean Rabin. The French colony of Saint-Domingue gained independence in 1804 as the sovereign nation of Haiti following an insurrection by self-liberated slaves.
Audubon's paintings are iconic Americana. Working in America, including frontier regions, as an ornithologist and naturalist, he identified 25 new species of birds. His wife Lucy (Bakewell) Audubon was the family's main breadwinner until, at the age of 41, Audubon found interest in his naturalist artwork among British audiences. His most famous work is a massive color-plate book The Birds of America.
Audubon was born on this day in 1785. He died in Manhattan on January 27, 1851, aged 65.
Image: The snowy owl, in John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, 1827–38, (c) The British Library Board.