The MIT Libraries were recently given 37 hand-colored lithographs from John James Audubon’sViviparous Quadrupeds of North America. The rare lithographs were generously donated by Mr. Ron Juster and family, in honor of Josh Juster, M. Eng. 2004. Several of the prints from the collection can be viewed in the Libraries’ Maihaugen Gallery where they are on display as part of the Celebration of Gifts exhibit.
The prints embody one of the 19th century’s most artistically successful attempts to catalog, illustrate, and promote understanding of the natural world. Following the monumental success of his publication Birds of America, naturalist and artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) attempted to produce accurate illustrations of every quadruped native to North America. In an effort to limit such a massive undertaking, he decided to include only viviparous animals (those that give birth to live young). The result was 150 paintings that are widely celebrated for both their scientific accuracy and their artistic beauty.
The Celebration of Gifts exhibit runs through February 19th in the Maihaugen Gallery, adjacent to the Institute Archives (14N-118). Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.