John James Audubon

Emma L.

John James Audubon

So when I first heard this guy, I thought "Oh he does giant pictures of birds. Cool. Why are we learning about him?" So when I saw his name (and after 3 tries) I decided to give him a chance. What I found was interesting to say the least. Finally unveiling why he is even mentioned was fun! So to answer some pondering questions, I bring to you these answers.

Early life

John James Audubon was born in Saint Dominque (Hati) in 1785 and moved to France soon after his birth. John's mother died when he was young. His father remarried to a woman who adored John James and found all of his antics fun. She wouldn't scold him when he came home dirty or had an abandoned nest in his pocket. His father, however, wasn't so interested. He wanted John to be just like him, a captain. He forced him to study geography, music, dancing, fencing, mechanical drawing and arithmetics. He found everything fun and fun except for the last two. But when his father came home from a long trip, he was told to be shown his studies. After he failed, he was sent to military school. The fun doesn't end there. When given a hard math problem, he jumped out of a window. John James Audubon. Teaching kids that it's okay to jump out windows in school. He did get caught and his father was not happy. When he was brought back home, he'd find dead birds and draw them. Because he was a messed up child. When his father saw, he was relieved that his son could do something. So he made him try again and again until he got the drawing close enough to the actual dead bird. His father then let his son study with the most famous painter in Paris at the time, Jacques-Louis David. He also found him boring because they just did black and white stuff and humans. When the French Revolution came about, he and his father fled in fear of the war. They moved to America in 1803.

Time in America

They stayed on a farmland of a close friend. John loved the wildlife that was there. He would go out and study the wildlife. Near a cave, he befriended two pheobes that even let him touch their babies. He tied silver string to them to see if they would come back the next year, technically the first tagging of wildlife ever, and they did come back. One of the smart things John did. John finally got the courage to go and talk to his neighbors. He ended up falling in love with a girl named Lucy Bakewell. He got married with her in 1808. They had four children though only his two sons, Victor Grifford and John Woodhouse Audubon, made it past young ages. His two other daughters died young.

How did he get discovered?

He wasn't a business man but he tried to start many businesses with a friend in order to get his family money. One day when working a guy showed up and showed his artwork to John. John was like "Whoa dude that's really good!" So his friend was like "Bro you can do 300 times better don't let him trick you into bamboozling you to heck and back. You bamboozle him to heck and back with your paintings." So John showed the other guy his paintings and probably said "Mine sucks compared to yours." like all artists do. Anyway, the guy thought his stuff was amazing and bought some of his paintings. He then made a living off of that, something that he loved. He would also study the birds in their habitats and write down what he noticed.

Did he do anything to conserve wildlife?

Ironically, not really. He would shoot birds, put them in realistic poses then paint them. Good job, Audubon. The reason why we have a National Audubon Society is because of this one guy, George Bird Grinnell, who was one of the founders tutored Lucy Audubon. He heard about what Audubon's paintings and decided to name the society in honor of the late Audubon.

So then why study him?

Even though he did little to no preservation of wildlife, he did bring in people who loved nature but couldn't get close enough to them to learn anything about the animals. Audubon would put everything he knew about the animals and nature lovers loved it. Wingspan, behavior, call, everything really. He drew in eyes to America, showing the beauty of the birds and wildlife that was there. That's why many people loved him and why he is still revlant today. People still compare their art to his. He started people's curiosity into what beauty there could be in the wildlife. If that's not cool, I have no clue what it then.


"John James Audubon." Audubon. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Kendall, Martha E. John James Audubon: Artist of the Wild. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1993. Print.

"John James Audubon." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.