Audubon, Orchids, India, and Indians from Arader Galleries
By Michael Stillman
The Arader Galleries have issued their latest Director's Report, an informative every-other month publication. Rather than a typical catalogue, this report includes in depth descriptions of a few important items. It offers a good read for those interested in the higher end books, maps, and artwork for which Arader is noted. Here is what is covered in this most recent edition.
The Arader Galleries recently acquired an oil painting by John James Audubon of the Pacific Loon (or Arctic Loon), what he called in his Birds of America the "Black-Throated Diver." Audubon generally preferred watercolors for creating his pictures, but he painted in oil on the side as he was able to raise money by selling these paintings. This was necessary to finance the costly publishing of his famous work. Even then, Audubon found himself in financial difficulties, as his original portfolio was too expensive to achieve sufficient sales. It was not until he published his smaller, less expensive octavo edition that Audubon finally began to convert his birds into bucks. This painting was completed in 1834, and it has both similarities and differences with the version that appeared in Birds of America. The loons to the left and right are almost identical, but the one in the middle of the printed image is absent from the oil painting. The oil painting also includes tall marsh grass in the background, absent from the printed version. Click on the image to the left to see a comparison of the two paintings.
While drawings of Indians by early visitors are well known, less familiar are drawings by Indians at the time of settlement. Indian art had generally been limited to adornment of objects such as clothing and pottery, or petroglyphs and pictographs on rock outcroppings. However, the Plains Indians were also known for ledger art, drawings on lined ledger books they were given by early settlers and members of the military. Arader has such a drawing by Cheyenne Indian Squint Eyes. He began drawing while held prisoner in the 1870s, and continued after he was released and hooked up with the army as a scout. Here he captures two men from the military hunting a deer.
In 1663, the Dutch seized the Cochin area of southern India from the Portuguese, which became a major trading colony. The Dutch East India Company controlled the trade, and sent its naturalist, Hendrik Draakenstein, to the area. He began to draw and describe the plants he found. The project went on for 25 years, with several artists contributing, and evidently some translators as the descriptions appear in four languages. The work is titled Hortus Indicus Malabaricus.