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The model for John James Audubon's Snowy Egret measured just over 22 inches in length—but weighed a mere 12 ounces! ❄️🕊
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In Audubon's time, this beautiful bird was hunted for its edible flesh, considered a delicacy. Only later in the century did its breeding plumes (or aigrettes) become the ultimate fashion accessory, used on items like this wedding crown. To obtain aigrettes—which were sold in immense quantities at astronomical prices—hunters slaughtered the sociable birds during breeding season, leaving unattended eggs and abandoned young. Only strict conservation measures have restored the Snowy Egret to its former wetlands habitat. 👉 See these items on view in our exhibition , open through July 15. ... 📸 Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Study for Havell pl. 242, 1832. Watercolor, gouache, and graphite with scraping and selective glazing on paper, laid on card. Purchased for N-YHS by public subscription from Mrs. John J. Audubon, 1863.17.242. [with George Lehman]. ...
📸 J. H. Johnston & Co. (1844–ca. 1910). Aigrette hair ornament (from a Snowy or Great Egret), 1894. New York City. Egret feathers, gold, gold wire, diamonds. @MuseumofCityNY , Gift of Mrs. Mary S. Griffin, 1961.

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