Audubon in the Home

April 4th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

John James Audubon artwork in its natural habitat.

This client purchased two of our Audubon Watercolors from the New-York Historical Society Edition and framed them in beautiful gold leaf frames.

“We love our Great Egret! It’s beautiful and ‘makes’ the dining room! I think the Egret and the Pelican really complement each other! Thank you so much for all of your help!”

If you are interested in having your Audubons or natural history art on our website, please submit photographs and a brief description to

Audubon Watercolor  Pl. 251 - Brown Pelican

John James Audubon Plate 251 – Brown Pelican Framed in a Handsome American Colonial-Style Moulding

A touch of wildlife and antiqued gold frames can add charm to an already elegant dining setting.

A touch of wildlife and antiqued gold frames can add charm to an already elegant dining setting.

Audubon Watercolor Pl. 29A- Great Egret

John James Audubon Plate 29A – Great Egret. This rare rendering by Audubon was never published in his final double elephant folio. Framed in a traditional American Whistler frame..

Color Matching the Bien Book

March 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Final Day of Printing the Bien Book

March 29th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Good morning from Verona, Italy!
It is our final day on press and we wanted to show you the first press sheet of the day (which has the title page and frontispiece of our book) with the printing press in the background. Alessandro Saccomani, who is holding the other end of the sheet, and Roberto Marani standing beside him, have been wonderful partners in printing the book since our arrival at Elcograph (formerly Mondadori) Printing a week ago Wednesday. We were told that this is the largest book they have ever printed in their over 100-year history.

Video: Printing the Bien Book in Verona, Italy

March 27th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Joel and Laura’s First Week Printing their Book on the Audubon Bien Edition in Verona, Italy

March 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Monday- Tuesday 3-18/19-13 

We have arrived in Verona to finally print the Bien book. It is hard to believe that after all of the preparation we will be seeing ink on paper in less than 24 hours. We start early Wednesday morning at Elcograph a very large printing facility about 12 minutes from our hotel. The hotel was built in 800 AD. Above our bed is a sign that says Caesar slept here. (just kidding).

Laura and Joel Oppenheimer arrive in Verona.

Laura and Joel Oppenheimer arrive in Verona.

Wednesday 3/20/13

We are finally on press. The printer is world class having produced many fine art books for Norton and other major publishers as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other museums. So our book will be in good company. Still, everybody is excited about the project because of the scale of the book. This will be the largest book of Audubon prints produced since the original Bien Edition was published in 1858. The first sheet has been approved and the presses are turning.

Joel Proofing the imagery for his new book

Joel proofing the imagery for his new book

Staff at Elcograph

Friday 3/22/13 

After two and a half days of printing (10-12 hour days) we have finished 12 sheets. That’s one third of the book. In the picture you can see Laura, Alessandro and Roberto holding one of the printed sheets. I will replace the photo next week with one in better focus. The paper is double-double elephant folio; twice the size of the original Bien book. Each sheet has eight pages printed on it. Once it is folded and stitched, the finished book will be 1/4 double elephant size. In the nineteenth century this would have been called “folio”.

Pages of the book hot off the press!

Pages of the book hot off the press!

James Bateman’s “A Monograph of Odontoglossum”

January 11th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

James Bateman (1811-1897), was one of the early developers of orchid culture. He sponsored expeditions to Mexico and South America enabling collectors to gather rare specimens. He published three lavish books about orchids. The Orchidacea of Mexico and Guatemala, 1837– 1843, A Second Century of Orchidaceous Plants, and A Monograph of Odontoglossum, 1864– 1874. Bateman pioneered “cool orchid cultivation” which enabled the Odotoglossum to be cultivated in England, replicating the cool arid climate of the cloud forests in Central America where these exotic flowers are found. Walter Hood Fitch, (1817 – 1892) the most prolific botanical artist of all time, was employed by Bateman to create the paintings for his magnificent orchid books. Fitch also rendered the images on the lithographic stones and his name or initials are found on every hand-colored plate.
Exceedingly rare, A Monograph of Odontoglossum is comprised of thirty large scale hand-colored lithographs. The plates offered here are all excellent examples the condition is perfect, the hand-coloring perfectly preserved in its original state.

If you are interested in more information about these beautiful prints, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300 or e-mail us at

Inquiries are received with pleasure.



Opening Night at Audubon Greenwich

December 7th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Saturday, December 1st marked the official opening of our new Oppenheimer Gallery at Audubon Greenwich.  Located in Audubon Greenwich’s recently renovated Kiernan Hall, the new Oppenheimer Gallery aims to bring 4 new shows a year with new natural history related themes, artwork, and events.  Visitors on December 1st were treated to an unprecedented exhibition comparing all renditions of Audubon’s artwork created between 1820 and 1861 including prints of Audubon’s original watercolors, the Havell engravings made from the watercolors, the Bien chromolithographs, as well as the smaller octavo editions.  A presentation by Joel Oppenheimer and Tom Baptist, Executive Director of Audubon Connecticut, illustrated the connection of all of Audubon’s artwork to the current incarnation of the Audubon Society, while gallery director, John Telling, made presentations from a bound book of Audubon’s 50 Best Watercolors.  

Please contact gallery director, John Telling at or Audubon Greenwich Events & Communications Manager, Jeff Cordulack at 203-869-5272 x239 if you have any interest in purchasing prints or if you would like to schedule a private viewing of the material.  All inquiries are received with pleasure.


Edward Lear’s Birds of Europe

February 15th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Lear Invitation

Click here to view available prints.

Joel Oppenheimer, Inc.  is pleased to announce the exhibition of Edward Lear’s Birds, from John Gould’s Birds of Europe, a newly acquired collection of 67 remarkable antique prints.  Considered one of the greatest ornithological artists of his era, the multi-talented Edward Lear (born May 12, 1812) was a self taught naturalist and painter who later became famous for authoring books of nonsense poems and limericks.  Interest in his writings and musings carry on to this day with websites dedicated to his life and legacy.

At age 14, Lear began his career as an artist. Many major publishers of nineteenth century English ornithology and natural history employed the young artist for his exacting and masterly skill. Lear’s work is further distinguished because he was the first bird artist to draw from living examples, capturing not only the precise details of the birds he painted, but also the individual bird’s unique character traits.  Lear worked at the Zoological Society in London where he met John Gould, the most prolific naturalist publisher of the nineteenth century. Lear drew 67 plates and many of the foregrounds for Gould’s Birds of Europe (1832-1837). The plates Lear contributed are among the finest of that work.  The rare, beautifully hand-colored plates acquired by Oppenheimer were drawn and signed by Lear on the lithographic stones. The exhibition is open to the public and admission is free of charge.

In celebration of Lear’s 200th birthday, museums and learning institutions worldwide will be honoring his body of work including the prestigious British Museum in London, London’s Fine Art Society, and Harvard University. The Harvard exhibit, “The Natural History of Edward Lear,” is being curated by Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Click here to view Invitation full size

Chicago: March 22 – April 28, 2012
Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. • 312-642-5300
Charleston: May 25 – June 30, 2012
The Audubon Gallery • 843-853-1100


5:30 TO 7:30 P.M.  RSVP by March 19th

312-642-5300 or

Uncolored Audubon Havell Engraving Plate 351 “Great Cinereous Owl”

April 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Uncolored Havell Plate 351 "Great Cinereous Owl"

Uncolored Havell Plate 351 "Great Cinereous Owl"

We have newly acquired a very unusual Havell print. It is plate 351 “Great Cinereous Owl” in an uncolored state. Over the years we have encountered and conserved a number of uncolored Havell prints for collectors. This particular print bears the signatures of Maria and Florence Audubon on the verso; they dated their signatures 1920. Maria died in 1925. This clearly identifies this print as having descended directly through the Audubon family. I believe that Maria and Florence, John Woodhouse Audubon’s daughters, were the last family members to carry the Audubon name. This print is a remarkable example. It is untrimmed, showing the full deckled edge of the hand-made Whatman paper. It was never bound and is a very early impression, maybe the first, made from the copper plate. If anyone can lend an insight to further advance our knowledge about this print your input is welcome.

Audubon's Granddaughter's signatures on Verso

Audubon's Granddaughter's signatures on Verso

Impressions: Birds of America, Audubon Prints from the Shelbourne Museum

April 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

John James Audubon Pl. 251 - Brown Pelican

John James Audubon Pl. 251 - Brown Pelican

The exhibition Birds of America, Audubon Prints from the Shelburne Museum opened at the Grand Rapids Museum of Art (GRAM) on April 14th, 2011 and I had the the privilege of attending. The show will be on display through August 14th, 2011

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is a modern architectural marvel. Designed by Kulapat Yantrasast as the world’s first LEED Gold Certified Museum, architectural critic Cathleen McGuigan cited the structure as one of the world’s six best new buildings in the Newsweek Article “Well Built”. The modern structure houses important works by many modern masters such as an immense Ellsworth Kelly and a gleaming orange Calder sculpture. The GRAM served as a unique juxtaposition against the antique Audubon engravings in both its structure and the company it provided the prints.

Beginning my journey to the exhibition, I moved through the GRAM toward a series of steps leading me up to the second floor exhibition space. Shining at the top of the steps, like butlers in starched bow ties and white gloves, greeting guests for a formal ball, were two large Audubon Havell prints. They were dressed in early American-style 22k gilt frames and simple, elegant white mats. Resplendent in their frames, the prints were surprisingly at home sharing space with a gleaming orange Calder sculpture. Upon reflection, of course Audubon and Calder work in symphonic harmony in the same space, both men’s work are some of the most recognizable and influential in America.

As I looked left, large gallery walls loomed a light green grey, reminiscent of colors seen in interior Federalist era homes. I was informed by Dr. Axsom that the intent is to evoke a sense of time and place, the color an interior wall hue present during Audubon’s life. Entering the gallery space, a map guided me through Audubon’s travels as he executed each bird drawing on display. The well-spaced prints are presented in cherry wood frames, again a nod to materials available in 19th Century America.

A second companion space gives dimension to Audubon and his life’s work by displaying his lesser known editions while jointly hinting at the arduous task of producing Birds of America. Items rounding out the exhibit include an early Bien Edition set of Audubon’s Birds of America, on loan from Joel Oppenheimer, Inc., a printing press, a volume from an Octavo set signed by Audubon, Octavo uncolored proof prints, and a large screen displaying all 474 of Audubon’s original drawings (Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society).

As a final delicious treat, Dr. Axsom gave a brilliant lecture on Audubon’s Birds of America, eliciting laughs and a few “ooohs” and “ahhhs”. GRAM has done a wonderful job of revisiting the wonder of Audubon with new eyes in a fresh space.

- Jennifer Tobits, Director of Conservation and Framing