American Wildlife Art

American Wildlife Art (2008) by David J. Wagner, hardcover, with cover image by Mark Catesby, The Parrot of Carolina (c. 1731). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia

John James Audubon (1785–1851), Hooping Crane (Plate 46),1834, hand-colored aquatint and engraving on Whatman paper. Courtesy of The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, County of Montgomery, Pennsylvania

A Lande Crab, collotype colored by pochoir, after a watercolor by John White (c. 1540–c. 1593). Lent by The Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, NC

American Speckled Brook Trout by Arthur Tait, courtesy of Adirondack Museum 

Sun, 09/29/2013 - Sun, 12/29/2013
Scheller and Rodale Galleries

An exceptional exhibition of animal-themed works by American artists are filling Scheller and Rodale galleries this fall. American Wildlife Art includes sensitive studies of individual subjects as well as dramatic scenes of life-and-death struggle played out before the backdrop of the great outdoors. Like the encyclopedic hardcover book of the same title, which serves as a catalog to the exhibition, the carefully selected works on display trace the history of an artistic genre shaped over five centuries, from its beginnings in colonial times to recent works of abstraction. The exhibition illustrates how ideas about animals and their habitats have changed over the years, and how artists and entrepreneurs have developed and influenced the market for wildlife art.

The exhibition includes works by Mark Catesby, who supplied members of the Royal Society in London with New World specimens for their burgeoning natural history collections during the Era of Exploration and Discovery; John James Audubon, who  caused the course of American wildlife art history to turn and advance by romanticizing the genre and transforming static composition and design into Baroque masterpieces; Arthur Tait, whose collaborations with Currier & Ives brought wildlife art to the masses and focused on classic game for sport; Edward Kemeys, whose seminal sculptures captured the essence of disappearing wildlife like the American bison and wolves just as prominent Americans like George B. Grinnell, William Hornaday, and Theodore Roosevelt were promoting wilderness preservation and the ethics of sportsmanship; and contemporaries Louis Agassiz Fuertes and Carl Rungius, extraordinary painters who professionalized the genre and brought it into the twentieth century. Also included in the exhibition will be early duck-stamp prints and a framed Millennium set of federal duck stamps from 1934 to 2000, on loan from the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. The exhibition concludes with recent paintings and sculptures by important modern wildlife artists such as Stanley Meltzoff, Robert Bateman, and Kent Ullberg.

American Wildlife Art will appeal to artists, collectors, conservationists, educators, sportsmen—anyone who already enjoys wildlife art or who is learning about it for the first time. Where the book comprehensively documents the genre’s history, the exhibition American Wildlife Art brings its artistic expression to life.

American Wildlife Art by David J. Wagner—a handsome hardcover book available for purchase in the Museum Store—was published in 2008 by Marquand Books (Seattle) in hardcover, with 280 color and 30 black-and-white illustrations in 424 pages. Design and printing was funded by the founder of the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation, with research and writing funded by the Robert S. and Grayce B. Kerr Foundation, whose chairman, Bill Kerr, founded the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.The project was funded also by a grant to the Newport Wilderness Society for research from the Door County Peninsula Arts Association and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. To learn more about the book, visit

David Wagner’s prodigious research ability has produced what will undoubtedly prove to be the definitive work on the history of American wildlife art. While others have written on particular facets of the subject, Wagner ties all the strands of the story together and presents it to the reader in a beautifully written illustrated synthesis. --John F. Reiger, author of American Sportsmen and the Origins of ConservationProfessor, Ohio University–Chillicothe

Major Sponsor: Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment
Sustaining Sponsor: The Audrey and Bernard Berman Endowment Fund
Supporting Sponsors: ICON magazine,  LEHIGH VALLEY WOMAN magazine, WDIY 88.1 FM--Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio