Havells' Death of a Warrior tops Audubon auction at $140,000


2015-06-26 13:16:20


Havells' Death of a Warrior tops Audubon auction at $140,000

Aquatint expert Robert Havell Jr's Death of a Warrior led an auction dedicated to John James Audubon

Guernsey's auction of the works of John James Audubon has been led by Death of a Warrior, an 1871 print by Robert Havell Jr, the chief engraver behind Audubon's Birds of America.

Robert Havell Jr Death of a TyrantRobert Havell Sr printed the book, while Havell Jr produced most of the aquatint engravings

The sale was held on May 11 in New York, with Death of a Warrior selling as top lot for $140,000. It was part of 150 original aquatint engravings from Audubon's landmark book, each a Havell Edition double elephant folio-sized piece.

Robert Havell Jr was the principal engraver of Audubon's Birds of America, which is considered the most significant natural history publication of all time.

He engraved all but the first 10 plates of the monumental work, which was published in a series between 1827 and 1838.

Birds of America currently holds the world record for any printed book sold at auction, after bringing $11.2m to a 2010 sale. Another example sold for $7.9m at Christie's in 2012.

Birds of America is one of the most significant natural history books ever published, and even documents now-extinct species

Death of Warrior shows a white-headed eagle being attacked by two small ducks. Signed in 1871 and numbered 78, it is faintly inscribed with the alternative title, Death of a Tyrant, on the reverse, which undoubtedly spurred its appeal to collectors.

Also selling well was Audubon's depiction of a snowy owl, a first edition engraving with hand colouring, which sold for $110,000.

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