Audubon watercolors on exhibit in New York

This ca. 1825 image provided by the New-York Historical Society of a Red-shouldered Hawk attacking Northern Bobwhites is one of 474 bird watercolors by John James Audubon in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, which is mouting three exhibitions of all of its Audubon images over three years. The 474 watercolors include 435 that were engraved for Audubon's monumental
This ca. 1825 image provided by the New-York Historical Society of a Red-shouldered Hawk attacking Northern Bobwhites is one of 474 bird watercolors by John James Audubon in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, which is mouting three exhibitions of all of its Audubon images over three years. The 474 watercolors include 435 that were engraved for Audubon's monumental "The Birds of America." It's considered the greatest book of printed engravings ever produced. The first group went on view March 8. (AP Photo/New-York Historical Society, John James Audubon)

The New York Historical Society is exhibiting its entire collection of 474 bird watercolors by John James Audubon for the first time.

They’re being shown chronologically in three exhibitions over three years. The first group have alread gone on view.

The collection includes 435 watercolors engraved for Audubon’s monumental The Birds of America. The intricately detailed, life-size renderings are the naturalist’s greatest work. An original edition of Audubon’s book, known as the double elephant folio, is also being shown. Its plates will be turned weekly.

The 3 ½ -foot-tall volume features all the avian species known to Audubon in early 19th-century North America. He sold the engraved plates in a subscription series.

The museum purchased all the watercolors, except one, from the artist’s widow in 1863.

The first exhibition ends May 19.

The Associated Press