(b Les Cayes, 26 Apr. 1785; d New York, 27 Jan. 1851). American painter-naturalist. Born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), the illegitimate son of a chambermaid and a French sea captain, he was brought up in France and received instruction in drawing from J. -L. David. He moved to the USA in 1803 to avoid conscription in Napoleon's army and lived as a naturalist, hunter, and taxidermist, also earning some money as a portraitist and drawing master. His combined interests in art and ornithology grew into a plan to make a complete pictorial record of all the bird species of North America. Unable to find a publisher in America, Audubon spent three years in England (1826–9) and found an engraver and publisher in the London firm of Robert Havell and Son.
Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)