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Natural History Art, Birds, Gadwall Ducks, Athos Menaboni, Vintage Painting, c. 1940


Athos Rodolfo Menaboni (1895-1990)
Chaulelasmus Streperus, Gadwall, Immature
American: c. 1938-41
Oil paint on illustration board
Inscription lower left “No. 17 B” and signed lower right
Titled lower center
36.75 x 26.75 inches
40.5 x 30.5 inches, gilt frame
Provenance: Estate of John E. duPont

A large lifelike original ornithological study of a pair of juvenile gadwalls, a species of duck found in North America. One is standing and the other airborne with wings spread. The birds exhibit their distinctive bold patches of white, black and brown feathers on the wings, along with the patterns of soft grays and beiges of the rest of the feathers. The habitat is suggested by a small rock and its rippled reflection surrounded by gracefully arcing marsh grasses. This work is by the prolific and celebrated Georgia bird artist Athos Menaboni. It is a fine example of the artist’s meticulous attention to anatomical detail of the birds, set in a lively natural composition.

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Athos Rodolfo Menaboni was an Italian-born American painter and muralist best known for his bird subjects. As a child in Italy, he studied mural painting and sculpture and later attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, whereupon he served in the Italian Army for the next four years.

After the war, Memaboni emigrated to the U.S. and by 1927 he had settled in Atlanta, where he lived the rest of his life. He designed murals for homes, public buildings, and houses of worship. An animal lover, in 1938 Menaboni started making ornithological paintings. These works were mainly the result of careful observation of live birds; he built two aviaries on the grounds of his home and obtained government permits to capture protected species in order to study them. Striving toward realism in every detail, he developed a technique of thin translucent layers of oil paint. He executed his work on a variety of surfaces: wood, silk, canvas, glass and mirrors.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s, his work was widely exhibited and appeared in magazines, advertisements and with the article on American birds in the The World Book Encyclopedia in 1957. The book Menaboni’s Birds (1950) with text by his wife, featured his paintings and was reissued in 1984. Today, the Kennesaw State University Museum and Galleries in Kennesaw, Georgia, has a large collection of Menaboni’s artwork and archival material; his papers are in the collection of Emory University.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning. Illustration board tinted overall, as issued. Very minor toning in far outer edges where the edges meet the frame rabbet. Frame very good with the usual wear.

Provenance: Estate of John E. duPont (1938-2010), founder of the Delaware Museum of Natural History. DuPont was an ornithologist who discovered some two dozen species and authored several books on birds.


“John Eleuthere du Pont.” Delaware County Daily Times. 12 December 2010. Online at Remembering (12 January 2012).

Klacsmann, Karen Towers. “Athos Menaboni.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia. 3 July 2010. (2 January 2012).

Menaboni, Athos and Sara. Menaboni’s Birds. rev. ed. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1984.

Taylor, Barbara Cable. The Life and Art of Athos Menaboni. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2000.

Additional information


20th C. Birds