John James Audubon, The birds of America, London, published by the author, 1827–38, Rare Books collection
Born in Haiti and raised in France, John James Audubon migrated to America at 18. After a failed business venture, he devoted himself to his passion: an ornithological survey of North American birds, funded by subscribers and published in London. His life-size paintings, based on his observations and specimens, were transferred to copperplates, printed and then hand-coloured by a team of artists. A complete edition comprises 435 double-elephant folio plates, issued in 87 parts over 11 years.