Where is the person who, on seeing this lovely little creature moving on humming winglets through the air, suspended as if by magic in it, flitting from one flower to another, with motions as graceful as they are light and airy, pursuing its course over our extensive continent, and yielding new delights wherever it is seen;--where is the person, I ask of you, kind reader, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and instantly turn his mind with reverence toward the Almighty Creator, the wonders of whose hand we at every step discover, and of whose sublime conceptions we everywhere observe the manifestations in his admirable system of creation?--There breathes not such a person; so kindly have we all been blessed with that intuitive and noble feeling--admiration!
No sooner has the returning sun again introduced the vernal season, and caused millions of plants to expand their leaves and blossoms to his genial beams, than the little Humming-bird is seen advancing on fairy wings, carefully visiting every opening flower-cup, and, like a curious florist, removing from each the injurious insects that otherwise would ere long cause their beauteous petals to droop and decay. Poised in the air, it is observed peeping cautiously, and with sparkling eye, into their innermost recesses, whilst the etherial motions of its pinions, so rapid and so light, appear to fan and cool the flower, without injuring its fragile texture, and produce a delightful murmuring sound, well adapted for lulling the insects to repose. Then is the moment for the Humming-bird to secure them. Its long delicate bill enters the cup of the flower, and the protruded double-tubed tongue, delicately sensible, and imbued with a glutinous saliva, touches each insect in succession, and draws it from its lurking place, to be instantly swallowed. All this is done in a moment, and the bird, as it leaves the flower, sips so small a portion of its liquid honey, that the theft, we may suppose, is looked upon with a grateful feeling by the flower, which is thus kindly relieved from the attacks of her destroyers.
The prairies, the fields, the orchards and gardens, nay, the deepest shades of the forests, are all visited in their turn, and everywhere the little bird meets with pleasure and with food. Its gorgeous throat in beauty and brilliancy baffles all competition. Now it glows with a fiery hue, and again it is changed to the deepest velvety black. The upper parts of its delicate body are of resplendent changing green; and it throws itself through the air with a swiftness and vivacity hardly conceivable. It moves from one flower to another like a gleam of light, upwards, downwards, to the right, and to the left.
– excerpted from John James Audubon's Birds of America
"In his written accompaniment to Plate 47: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Audubon implores the reader to admire the Hummingbird’s dynamic flight patterns. Indeed, the composition’s sprawling, splayed contours and the image’s decentralized focus encourage the viewer to scan this way and that, perhaps conjuring Audubon’s excitement as he scrambled from state to state in an ornithological haze. The artist describes the Hummingbird’s gleaming iridescence as “sublime”, — this is a man who talks about birds with a practically Transcendentalist tinge, as if his end goal is to rally poets, painters, and the populace to divert their worship away from the Church towards the natural world. Note that the bird’s source of sustenance is equally prominent: the trumpet-flower. The colorful flora serves as visual scaffolding for hungry Hummingbirds, each of which Audubon delicately annotates by number" ... Read more from Sam Stevens on the blog!
+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available
Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.
Museo Portfolio Rag
10"x8" | edition of 20
14"x11" | edition of 200
20"x16" | edition of 50
30"x24" | edition of 10