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Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young

John Jamse Audubon1826

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Bentonville, United States

Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young is one of the first oil paintings Audubon created related to his famous publication Birds of America (1827-1838). Painted in Edinburgh, the composition is based on two watercolors Audubon made as preliminary studies for two of the book’s illustrations: the turkey cock, and the hen and young. The painting is extraordinary for its detail and sense of life. However, the charming family portrait is not quite true to nature since turkey hens usually drive cocks away from their offspring. Audubon collected and drew the hen while traveling down the Mississippi in 1820, and depicts her leading and guarding her camouflaged chicks. He found the turkey cock in a Louisiana canebrake in 1825 and rendered him looking back cautiously. He combined both studies for his oil version, embedding them in the outskirts of a forest scene and adding an imaginary mountain landscape in the background. In 1826 he gave the painting to the Royal Institution in Edinburgh as an expression of gratitude for allowing him to exhibit his works there free of charge.

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  • Title: Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young
  • Creator: John Jamse Audubon
  • Date Created: 1826
  • Physical Dimensions: 47 1/2 × 59 1/2 in. (120.7 × 151.1 cm)
  • Provenance: given to the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1826; to Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1858 - 2011; to (Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, NY), by 2013; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2013
  • Subject Keywords: animal art, turkeys
  • Rights: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • External Link: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Medium: Oil on linen

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