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John James Audubon - Career Timeline

Feature Essay Career Timeline Additional Footage Filmmaker Interview


John James Audubon: Career Timeline

1785  Born in Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) to Captain Jean Audubon and Jeanne Rabine, his French chambermaid

1788  Sent to Nantes, France. Enjoys childhood here, begins interest in the natural world

   Detail from a portrait of John James Audubon
1803  Leaves France for the United States to avoid conscription in Napoleon's army. Moves to Mill Grove, his father's estate in Pennsylvania

1804  Meets and falls in love with Lucy Bakewell, daughter of neighbor William Bakewell in Mill Grove. Creates wire constructions that help him pose dead birds in lifelike positions to paint them.

1807  Sets up general store in Louisville, KY

1808  Marries Lucy Bakewell and moves with her to Louisville.

1809  Son Victor born

1810  Meets ornithologist Alexander Wilson, and declines to subscribe to his publication, American Ornithology. Moves to Henderson, KY with family.

1812  Son John Woodhouse born

1815  Daughter Lucy born

1816  Invests in steam-powered grist mill in Henderson.

1817  Daughter Lucy dies

1819   Samuel Adams Bowen attacks Audubon on the street; Audubon stabs him in self-defense. Business fails. Jailed for debt; released when he files for bankruptcy. Family loses all possessions. Daughter Rose is born.

1820  Daughter Rose dies. States intention to complete, in his lifetime, "a collection of the Birds of our Country, from Nature, all of Natural Size".

1821  Arrives in New Orleans and begins portrait painting on the street. Wife and sons join him in December.

1824  Attempts to obtain support from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for a publication of his engravings of American birds. Opposed by George Ord, editor of American Ornithology by Alexander Wilson.

1826  Leaves for England. Gains success quickly. Exhibits 250 paintings at the Royal Institution at Liverpool, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Meets William Home Lizars, who agrees to become Audubon's engraver.

1827  Hires London's Havell & Son to work on Double elephant Folio etchings.

1829  Returns to America to paint more American birds and convince Lucy to join him in England.

1830  Dines at the White House with President Andrew Jackson.

1831  Publishes first volume of Ornithological Biography.

1833  Travels to Labrador to paint northern bird species.

1838  Fourth and final volume of the Folio edition of Birds of America is completed.

1839  Leaves England for good to settle in New York with Lucy. Begins planning for The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.

1840  Begins work on octavo edition of The Birds of America.

1841  Purchases Minnie's Land, a 30 acre estate in Upper Manhattan.

1843  Travels west to search for new specimens for Quadrupeds.

1845  First Imperial Folio volume of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America is published.

1848  Suffers stroke. Eyesight has now failed and son John Woodhouse has taken over work on Quadrupeds project. Audubon begins to go senile.

1851 Dies at Minnie's Land on January 27.

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