Throughout his life, Audubon considered himself as a wilderness artist, beginning his work on The Birds of America. Audubon traveled and took up residence in Great Britain, Scotland, then in England. After his arrivance in Great Britain, he sought himself to not only being an artist but a woodsman. Throughout his journey, Audubon wrote to his wife Lucy, who was still living in the United States. Audubon became aware that his American identity was in the woods, often admiring the nature and the animals that make up the world around him.
Audubon had a scientific, yet artistic approach to his artwork.
Although he admired the birds that he used in his paintings greatly, he viewed the animals as a benefit towards his artwork and success. Audubon wrote about how difficult it must be for a naturalist to ascertain the true distinctions of these birds and the true meaning of being a man in nature. He believed that taking the risks to pursue his career in the form of science.
Audubon wanted it known that he faced nature in its wildest form, specifically for his work of art. Although Audubon was viewed as sinful and hypocritical for the act of hunting among these animals and birds for his artwork, it is questionable whether he admires these creatures despite his act of cruelty throughout his upcoming success.
“My heart swells the bird seized when sitting on her nest could not be more terrified- I look up: yes, for mercy I look up; and yet, how much I dread” (Audubon, 1826, p.
43). Though many of Audubon’s paintings combine scientific descriptions, he admires the artistic and physical aspects of the birds that he observes. Following the passage, Audubon pauses and begins to observe the objects of surrounding him. His thoughts to himself were disgusted and confused after cutting the goose quill. He turned his attention back to the reason he is doing it all; for the happiness that gets brought upon him through his artwork.
Despite Audubon’s praise of the birds as a “beautiful species” he suggests that the act to egret feathers is beneficial for profit. Audubon’s process during his artwork was to paint animals in a life size matter in the process of killing, positing, and painting. “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, passed in 1918, prohibited plume hunting within the United States and thus helped [the egrets] to regain their former levels of abundance” (Audubon Society, 2014). While Audubon’s paintings and artwork were admired greatly, his name still correlates with the endangerment of wildlife preservation.
The act of hunting has been viewed as an emotive debate for centuries. Hunting is correlated with social and cultural practices, based off of the intentions and purposes that the hunter has. “Critiques of violence toward animals for consumption, in the broadest possible sense, correctly argue that certain species are defined as valuable for certain con- sumptive practices as a result of social values, cultural practices, geographical proximity, and historical precedent rather than any inherent qualities of the animals themselves” (Herzog, 2010; Weitzenfeld & Joy, 2014).
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