Audubon's Great Blue Heron to headline naturalist sale in New York

The Great Blue Heron, plate 211 of James John Audubon's Birds of America, is to auction at Guernsey's in New York with a $100,000-150,000 estimate.

The first edition, hand-coloured aquatint will headline a sale of pieces related to the world of natural history titled: Naturalism in the Time of Audubon.

Great Blue Heron Guernsey's
The Great Blue Heron is one of Audubon's most celebrated illustrations

Audubon (1785-1851) was a naturalist and painter best known for his extensive study of American birds, a project that he began in 1820 - publishing his illustrations intermittently via a subscription.

A large portfolio containing 435 hand-coloured engravings was eventually released in 1838. Only 200 were issued at a cost of $870 - around $21,750 today.  

In 2010, a copy of Birds of America achieved £7.3m ($11.5m) at Sotheby's London - making it the world's second most valuable book.

A number of other plates from Audubon's magnum opus will feature in the January 25 sale, including a depiction of the Carolina parrot (valued at $90,000-110,000) and the Virginian partridge ($70,000-90,000).

Hypoxius luzulaefolia by the Belgian artist Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840) is another highlight, estimated at $50,000-60,000.

Redoute was considered one of the finest botanical artists of his era, and in the early 1800s became the official artist to the Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon - whom he had accompanied to Egypt in 1798.

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