MALLARD DUCK - Bien Edition 1858-186, Blue Background Full Page (25.625"X38.75")
Plate 385 - Seven years after their father's death, Audubon's sons began an American Edition of Birds of America with Julius Bien, a New York printer who was pioneering the field of chromolithography. Bien transferred the images from Havell's copper plates onto lithographic stones. Then, as many as thirty printing stages, with additional hand engraving and coloring, were used to reproduce the subtleties of the original engravings. Also of double elephant dimensions, these sheets represent one of the first successful employments of the chromolithographic process and remain as one of its finest examples. The Bien edition, also to be sold by subscription, was begun in 1858. Production was brought to a sudden halt by the advent of the Civil War. Only 150 plates were ever completed. The Audubon family, unable to sell the edition or recoup their losses, found their fortune greatly diminished.