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Prints: Audubon's Folio Birds
Bien Edition (1858-1860)

The Bien Edition takes its name from printer Julius Bien of New York, a German immigrant who was among the pioneers in developing chromolithography (an early form of color printing) in the United States.  The project was conceived by John Woodhouse Audubon, the younger of the two Audubon sons, and was intended to help restore the family's ailing finances. John intended a full reissue of the 435 images of the Double Elephant Folio to include 44 parts, the typical part consisting of seven sheets of paper with ten bird images. In each part, there would be two sheets with a single large image, two sheets with a single medium-sized image, and three sheets, each of which included two small images.

Although each plate is printed in color with as many as six lithographic stones, many Bien Edition plates are enhanced with hand-coloring. Some vary somewhat from their Havell Edition counterparts in terms of the coloring, but also in some cases in terms of the image backgrounds. Bien Edition plates are beautiful and historically important prints in their own right, representing a landmark work in the development of American color printing. Although not as well known to the public as the Havell Edition, Biens have their champions among both collectors and dealers. These fine original prints serve as lower-priced alternatives to the more expensive Havells, and hold a unique place in the story of Audubon's work, a place that no modern reproduction can duplicate.

In order to make the new prints, Bien transferred the images from the original copper plates to lithographic stones using a wetted sheet of transfer paper. This technique allowed Bien to capture both the fine lines and aquatint shading of the engravings. Unfortunately, poor economic conditions brought on by the Civil War would force John to discontinue the project in 1860 after 15 parts (150 images on 105 sheets of paper) had been issued. John's death in 1862 ensured the project was never revived. Sadly, the financial losses incurred by the Audubon family as a result of the Bien Edition led to bankruptcy and the dispersal of the extended Audubon family.

All prints are full sheets measuring about 38-39 inches x 25-26 inches unless otherwise stated. Please ask for a condition report. CLICK ON THE THUMBNAILS BELOW FOR A FULL SIZE IMAGE. Photographs are highly dependent on light conditions and are not always accurate representations of the prints. I am happy to provide detailed descriptions and provide photos under varying light conditions to give you a better sense of colors and sheet tone.

pileated woodpecker

PL 257 Pileated Woodpecker

SOLD

Bien Ruby-throated Humming-bird

PL 287 Wild Turkey (Male). A superb example of this highly sought after print. MORE INFORMATION.$28000. HOLD

Original Bien

PL 288 Fish Hawk or Osprey

SOLD

original Bien

PL385 Mallard Duck. Top image. Measuring 38-3/4 by 25-5/8 inches. $12000. Colorful depiction of our most common duck.

original Bien

PL 363 Night Heron (Black-crowned Night Heron). Measuring 37-3/4 inches by 26-1/8 inches. $8500. Lovely Atamasco lilies.

original Bien

PL 405 Eider Duck. Measuring 38-3/8 by 26-1/8 inches. Ducks defend their egg-filled nest. SOLD

original Bien

PL 43 Night Hawk $1990. Trimmed to 32-5/8 by 24-1/4 inches. Night Hawks in pursuit of moths.

original Bien

PL 221 Purple Grackle Trimmed to 32-3/8 by 24-1/4 inches. SOLD

Original Bien

PL 364 Yellow-crowned Heron. SOLD. Audubon painted these birds in South Carolina when staying with his friend John Bachman. Beautiful!

original Bien

PL 7 Red-tailed Hawk $4500. Classic image of two hawks fighting over a rabbit.

original Bien

PL 45 Purple Martin. Four birds with a hollowed-out calabash gourd. SOLD

original Bien

PL 244 Yellow-breasted Chat. $4500. Image popular for beautiful botanical and depiction of this species' distinctive displays. SOLD

original Bien

PL 428 Black Skimmer or Shearwater $1990. Trimmed to 30-7/8 by 25-3/8 inches.

original Bien

PL 367 Green Heron. $5000.  
Adult male pursues luna moth with 
young heron at right. 

original Bien

PL 252 Columbian Humming Bird /  
PL 251 Mango Humming Bird $3000. Anna Hummingbird and Black-throated Mango with botanicals by Maria Martin.