SHARON/LAKEVILLE — Organized by the Sharon Historical Society & Museum, 18 Main Street, in Sharon, “Wild and Beautiful Creatures: The Life and Work of J.J. Audubon” is a celebration of the art, science, and heritage of John James Audubon, one of America’s greatest naturalists. The Tremaine Art Gallery exhibit, “Wild and Beautiful Creatures,” is on view August 30 to Oct. 13 at the Hotchkiss School, 11 Interlaken Road, Lakeville, and runs concurrently with “The Life and Work of J.J. Audubon,” on view at the Sharon Historical Society Museum, Sept. 14 to Dec. 13.
The Tremaine will host a gallery talk Saturday, Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. followed by a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. The featured speaker is Dr. Robert McCracken Peck, Curator of Art and Artifacts and Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia. The talk and reception are free and open to the public.
The Tremaine Art Gallery exhibition includes around thirty of Audubon’s stunning illustrations of birds and mammals for his two monumental publications, “The Birds of America” (1826-38) and “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America” (1845-54). Drawn largely from local collections, including that of Hotchkiss School Special Collections, most of the prints are from Robert Havell Jr.’s original hand-colored “double elephant folio” edition. Also on exhibit will be examples from other editions, as well as one of the few surviving oil paintings from a projected “Gallery of Paintings” of the birds, and one of the rare copper plates from which the Havell edition was pulled.
At the same time, the Sharon Historical Society and Museum will provide context with an exhibition on Audubon’s life and work. The show will explore his fascinating professional and family life, the evolution of his publications, his innovative working methods, his complex relationship with the conservation of American species and their environment, and his heritage in the founding and work of the National Audubon Society and Audubon Sharon.
Among the objects on display are one of Audubon’s rare portrait drawings, his favorite snuff box, and a beautiful specimen of a passenger pigeon, abundant in Audubon’s lifetime but by the early 20th Century, extinct. The exhibition will be complemented by an exhibit of works by local artist Allen Blagden, one of today’s foremost wildlife watercolorists.
A program of lectures and other events are scheduled to coincide with the exhibits. Autumn programming at Audubon Sharon, a division of Nation Audubon, whose three thousand acres of preserve and Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic continue the work begun by Audubon, will supplement the exhibits. For comprehensive information about events please visit www.hotchkiss.org/arts, www.sharonhist.org, and www.sharon.audubon.org.