Huntsville, Ala – An impressive collection of 34 original prints of North American quadrupeds by John James Audubon will be the subject of a new exhibition opening on March 21 at the Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA). The exhibition is titled John James Audubon: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Told, Jr. and will be on view through June 28.
In the early 1840s, renowned naturalist and artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) decided to paint the animals of North America. Having achieved worldwide fame with his Birds of North America, he joined with his sons, John Woodhouse and Victor Audubon, to document the region’s quadrupeds. He eventually produced 150 folio drawings, hand printed and hand colored by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia.
“Like his birds, Audubon’s animal prints are still considered the finest of their kind published in America,” Peter J. Baldaia, HMA Director of Curatorial Affairs, said.
For nearly four decades, William H. Told, Jr. and Jane Told of New York City collected Audubon’s quadruped prints. The Tolds received their first print, a marmot, as a gift. They appreciated not only the scientifically-accurate animal subjects (some of which are now extinct), but also the prints’ backgrounds, which sometimes included native foliage, American Indians, and other naturalistic scenes of 19th-century America.
The Tolds are donating 38 prints from Audubon’s quadruped portfolio to HMA’s permanent collection. They currently display their prints in their homes in New York City, Palm Beach, and Dorset, Vermont.
“The quadrupeds will add a new dimension to the Huntsville Museum of Art’s collection and will be widely appreciated by this scientific and intellectual community,” Mr. Told said in a recent interview.
“Of the many institutions who were vying for Jane and Bill’s collection, I am very touched that they have chosen the HMA as “home” to their Audubon Collection,” HMA Executive Director Christopher J. Madkour, said.
It was through their friendship with Madkour that they learned about Huntsville and what a vibrant, well educated community it was, making it the “perfect home” for their collection, Mr. Told added.
On Saturday, March 21, HMA and the Honorable Mayor Tommy Battle and his wife, Eula Battle, invite Museum members and the public to a Members’ Preview Opening for the exhibit from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Honored guests at the event will include the Tolds, Congressman and Mrs. Mo Brooks, and Albert Head of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The Women’s Guild of the Huntsville Museum of Art will host the wine and cheese reception. The event is FREE for members and $25 for non-members. Guests are asked to RSVP by March 19 by calling 256-535-4350 ext. 208 or by reserving their spot or buying a ticket online at www.hsvmuseum.org.
John James Audubon: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was organized by the Huntsville Museum of Art. Exhibition support was generously provided by Kelly and Randy Schrimsher, Joyce Griffin, Fuqua & Partners, ASCA, Altherr Howard Design, and the Women’s Guild of the Huntsville Museum of Art.
HMA’s NEW 2014-15 hours are: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed to the public on Mondays and some major holidays. Through April 26 and in conjunction with the Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe exhibition, admission is $12 for adult, non-members; $10 for military, students (age 12 and up), teachers, and seniors (60+) with a valid ID; $5 for children age 6−11; and $8 per person for groups of 10 or more. Museum admission after 5 p.m. on Thursdays is only $5, as part of HMA’s $5 After Five program. Museum members and children 5 and under are admitted FREE.