John Woodhouse Audubon
Colonel Abert's Squirrel, 1853
Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches
19th-Century American Frame
Knoedler Art Galleries, New York before 1951
Sold to Anonymous dealer
Alice Ford, ed., Audubon’s Animals: The Quadrupeds of North America, New
York, The Studio Publications, Inc., 1951, p. 191, 214, 216, Fig. 153, Plate number in The Quadrupeds: CLIII
J. J. Audubon & J. Bachmann, The Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. 3,
1854, Royal Octavo Edition, plate CLIII
Note from The Quadrupeds of North America:
“It gives us great pleasure to welcome this beautiful new animal under the name Colonel Abert’s Squirrel. Dr. Woodhouse remarks: ‘This beautiful Squirrel I procured whilst attached to the expedition under command of Captain L. Sitgreaves, Topographical Engineer, U.S. Army, exploring the Zuñi and the great and little Colorado rivers of the West in October, 1851, in the San Francisco Mountains, New Mexico.’ “
By 1852 when he painted Colonel Abert's Squirrel at the conclusion of the monumental project, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, John Woodhouse Audubon's artistic abilities rivaled those of his father in conveying the character, vitality, and realistic detail of his animal subjects.
This charming, freshly discovered native of the Southwest was portrayed in its natural habitat of the San Francisco Mountains near present-day Flagstaff, Arizona. The energy inherent in the squirrel's upright pose and the precision of his delicate whiskers and finely delineated coat suggest the animation of a quivering nose and flickering tail, while the liquid eyes and red hue of his open mouth suggest the warmth and appeal of a living creature.