Plate 108: Fox-coloured Sparrow

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Medium: Museo PR
More About This Edition:

+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Signed + numbered certificate of authenticity included
+ 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.

Artist Statement


"Follow these birds wherever you will, you invariably find them not in deep woods, but along the fences, and amid patches of briars and tangled underwood, which at all times seem so pleasing to them. They traverse the whole of the Union by day, resting here and there awhile, to watch the gradual improvement of the season.

They enter the British Provinces full of joy, and lavish of song. Many are well pleased to remain there, but the greater number pursue their course to revisit the Magdeleine Islands, Newfoundland, and the country of Labrador. There you find them in every pleasant dell, where no sooner have they arrived than each searches for a safe retreat in which to place its nest. This is in due time replenished with eggs; and, while the female sits on them with care and anxiety, her devoted lover chants the blessings they both enjoy.

Would that I could describe the sweet song of this Finch; that I could convey to your mind the effect it produced on my feelings, when wandering on the desolate shores of Labrador!--that I could intelligibly tell you of the clear, full notes of its unaffected warble, as it sat perched on the branch of some stunted fir. There for hours together was continued the delightful serenade, which kept me lingering about the spot. The brilliancy and clearness of each note, as it flowed through the air, were so enchanting, the expression and emphasis of the song so powerful, that I never tired of listening."

- from Birds of America


John James Audubon | See All Editions


John James Audubon (1785-1851) was not the first person to attempt to paint and describe all the birds of America, but for half a century he was the young country’s dominant wildlife artist. His seminal Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-size prints, is still a standard against which 20th and 21st century bird artists are measured.

Audubon was born in Saint Domingue (now Haiti), the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and plantation owner and his French mistress. Early on, he was raised by his stepmother, Mrs. Audubon, in Nantes, France, and took a lively interest in birds, nature, drawing, and music. In 1803, at the age of 18, he was sent to America, in part to escape conscription into the Emperor Napoleon’s army. He lived on the family-owned estate at Mill Grove, near Philadelphia, where he hunted, studied, and drew birds, and met his wife, Lucy Bakewell. While there, he conducted the first known bird-banding experiment in North America, tying strings around the legs of Eastern Phoebes; he learned that the birds returned to the very same nesting sites each year.

Audubon spent more than a decade as a businessman, eventually traveling down the Ohio River to western Kentucky—then the frontier—and setting up a dry-goods store in Henderson. He continued to draw birds as a hobby, amassing an impressive portfolio. While in Kentucky, Lucy gave birth to two sons, Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse, as well as a daughter who died in infancy. Audubon was quite successful in business for a while, but hard times hit, and in 1819 he was briefly jailed for bankruptcy.

With no other prospects, Audubon set off on his epic quest to depict America’s avifauna, with nothing but his gun, artist’s materials, and a young assistant. Floating down the Mississippi, he lived a rugged hand-to-mouth existence in the South while Lucy earned money as a tutor to wealthy plantation families. In 1826, he sailed with his partly finished collection to England. The American Woodsman was literally an overnight success. His life-size, highly dramatic bird portraits, along with his embellished descriptions of wilderness life, hit just the right note at the height of the Continent’s Romantic era. Audubon found a printer for the Birds of America, first in Edinburgh, then London, and later collaborated with the Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray on the Ornithological Biographies—life histories of each of the species in the work.

The last print was issued in 1838, by which time Audubon had achieved fame and a modest degree of comfort, traveled the country several more times in search of birds, and settled in New York City. Audubon’s story is one of triumph over adversity; his accomplishment is destined for the ages. He encapsulates the spirit of young America, when the wilderness was limitless and beguiling. He was a person of legendary strength and endurance, as well as a keen observer of birds and nature.

- National Audubon Society

Vintage Editions | See All Editions


For our Vintage Editions series, our curators scour historical archives for both timeless classics and heretofore unseen gems. These images come back to life as exhibition-quality prints now available to everyone. As a bonus, purchasing equals patronage: sales from Vintage Editions prints go towards supporting our growing roster of artists.