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Audubon’s Female Jaguar—Found in the San Antonio Area


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24.     AUDUBON, J[ohn] J[ames]. Felis Onca, Linn. The Jaguar. Female [at top] No. 21. | Plate CI. [below] Drawn from Nature by J.J. Audubon, F.R.S. F.L.S. | Lithd. Printed & Cold. by J.T. Bowen, Philada. 1846. Philadelphia, 1846. Hand-colored lithograph. Image: 43.8 x 61.7 cm; image and text: 47.7 x 61.7 cm; overall sheet size: 52.3 x 69.6 cm. Minor browning at blank margins, otherwise a very fine copy with rich color, of one of the most dramatic and beautiful quadrupeds. Matted, maple frame, and under Plexiglas.

     First edition. This print will be included in Dr. Ron Tyler’s forthcoming work on nineteenth-century lithographs of Texas. Tyler comments: “The San Antonio area was particularly fruitful, for there John found the Large-Tailed Skunk, the jaguar, and the ocelot. A group of Texas Rangers put him onto the jaguar, suggesting that he look near the watering places of smaller animals.” See also: Mrs. Horace St. John, Audubon, the Naturalist of the New World: His Adventures and Discoveries (New York: C.S. Francis and Co., 1859), pp. 270-278:

Alike beautiful and ferocious, the jaguar is of all American animals unquestionably the most to be dreaded, on account of its combined strength, activity, and courage, which not only give it a vast physical power over other wild creatures, but enable it frequently to destroy man….

Col. [John Coffee (Jack)] Hays and several other officers of the [Texas] Rangers, at the time J.W. Audubon was at San Antonio de Bexar, in 1845, informed him that the jaguar was most frequently found about the watering-places of the mustangs, or wild horses, and deer. It has been seen to spring upon the former, and from time to time kills one; but it is much more in the habit of attacking colts about six months old, which it masters with great ease…

In a conversation with General Houston at Washington city, he informed us that he had found the jaguar east of the San Jacinto River, and abundantly on the head waters of some of the eastern tributaries of the Rio Grande, the Guadaloupe, etc…. The celebrated Bowie caught a splendid mustang horse, on the rump of which were two extensive scars made by the claws of a jaguar or cougar. Such instances, indeed, are not very rare.

Capt. J.P. McCown, U.S.A., related the following anecdote to us:—Rio Grande, one night, in the thick, low, level musquit [mesquite] country, when on an expedition after Indians, the captain had killed a beef which was brought into camp from some distance. A fire was made, part of the beef hanging on a tree near it. The horses were picketed around, the men outside forming a circular guard. After some hours of the night had passed, the captain was aroused by the soldier next him saying, “Captain, may I shoot?” and raising himself on his arm, saw a jaguar close to the fire, between him and the beef, and near it, with one fore foot raised, as if disturbed; it turned its head towards the captain as he ordered the soldier not to fire, lest he should hurt some one on the other side of the camp, and then, seeming to know it was discovered, but without exhibiting any sign of fear, slowly, and with the stealthy, noiseless pace and attitude of a common cat, sneaked off.

     Audubon claimed to have studied under the renowned French painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), who exercised the strongest influence in French art of the early nineteenth century. Audubon’s assertion has been questioned. But one element of a possible David-Audubon connection can never be questioned. David most certainly influenced Audubon’s art, as patently evidenced in dramatic images with heightened feeling. like this bold rendering of the female jaguar.


Sold. Hammer: $5,800.00; Price Realized: $6,960.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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