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Audubon’s Life—Size Texian Hare


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33.     AUDUBON, J[ohn] W[oodhouse]. Lepus Texianus, Aud. & Bach. Texian Hare Male. Natural Size. [at top] No. 27. | Plate CXXXIII. [below] Drawn from Nature by J.W. Audubon | Lithd. Printed & Cold. by J.T. Bowen, Philada. 1848. Philadelphia, 1848. Hand-colored lithograph. Image: 43 x 63.4 cm; image and text: 46.5 x 63.4 cm; overall sheet size: 54.5 x 69.2 cm. Light marginal browning, original stab holes at top, otherwise very fine. Matted, maple frame, and under Plexiglas.

     First edition. This print will be included in Dr. Tyler’s forthcoming work on nineteenth-century lithographs of Texas. According to Theodore Sherman Palmer in his study, The Jack Rabbits of the United States (Washington: GPO, 1896, p. 11), Audubon and Bachman were the first to use the name jack rabbit: “The resemblance of their large ears to those of the well-known pack animal of the West has suggested the common names of ‘jackass hares,’ ‘jack rabbits,’ or ‘jacks.’ In some parts of California jack rabbits are called ‘narrow-gauge mules’ and ‘small mules’…. In the Southwest and beyond the Rio Grande, the large hares are called ‘liebres’ by the Mexicans, to distinguish them from the cotton-tail rabbits, or ‘conejos.’” In the text to The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, Audubon and Bachman comment:

This species is called the jackass rabbit in Texas, owing to the length of its ears…. This hare received from the Texans and from our troops in the Mexican war the name of jackass rabbit, in common with Lepus callotis. It is the largest of three nearly allied species of hare which inhabit respectively New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, and California, viz. the present species, the Black-tailed, and the Californian Hare. It is quite as swift of foot as either of the others, and its habits resemble those of the Black-tailed Hare in almost every particular. The young have generally a white spot on the middle of the top of the head, and are remarkable for the rigidity of the fringe of hairs which margin the ears. The feet of this species do not exhibit the red and dense fur which prevails on the feet of the Black-tailed Hare (and from which it has sometimes been called the Red-footed Hare).

     While traveling to Mexico, John W. Audubon was regaled with fantastic stories about the Texian Hare, such as comparing it to the size of a fox. Audubon commented that the Texian Hare was definitely the largest hare he had seen. He was impressed that the greyhounds of Col. Harney’s Rangers in San Antonio in 1845 “had many a chase but never caught one!”

     Howard R. Lamar includes an article on jackrabbits in his Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West (New York, Crowell, 1977, pp. 582-583). On the more whimsical aspects of the Texian jackrabbit, The Handbook of Texas Online (Odessa) comments: “Odessa boasts the world’s largest jackrabbit, whose temporary home is in front of the Ector County Independent School District administration building.” Odessa also presented the world’s first championship jackrabbit roping contest in 1932, a “Hare-Brained” publicity stunt during which cowgirl Grace Hendricks roped a jackrabbit from horseback in five seconds flat, winning over numerous male competitors.


Sold. Hammer: $3,000.00; Price Realized: $3,600.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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