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Natural History Art, Birds, Wild Turkey, John Ruthven, Large Aquatint, 1977

$875

John A. Ruthven (b. 1924) (after)
Norma Gloria Morgan (b. 1928) (engraver)
Andersen-Lamb (printed and hand-colored)
Eastern Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo 
Wildlife Internationale, Georgetown, Ohio, 1977
Hand-colored aquatint
Signed in pencil lower left: John A. Ruthven
Edition numbered in pencil in title block lower left: 140/776
Signed in pencil by individual colorist, lower edge
18 x 27.75 inches, image plate mark
22.5 x 30 inches, overall
$875

A large print of the eastern wild turkey, wings and tail spread, against the branch of an oak tree in late fall or winter, when leaves have turned brown and most have fallen. The bird makes a striking silhouette with the varied patterns of its wings, back and tail in shades of brown, rust, white, and black. Although not labeled in terms of gender, the bird portrayed here would appear to be a gobbler (male) rather than a hen (female) because of the white head, bright red wattle, and the “beard” of long feathers hanging from beneath its neck. This aquatint was produced after a watercolor by ornithological artist John Ruthven. Like many of Ruthven’s bird paintings, it presents a species that has either disappeared or been threatened with extinction by human activity. Happily, through the efforts of conservationists, the wild turkey population has recovered.

Product description continues below.

Description

The wild turkey lives in mature forests, particularly among nut trees. After being hunted to the point of disappearing from large parts of their range, in the 1940s conservationists began reintroducing these valuable game birds to many areas, and they are once again found in every state except Alaska. There are regional variations among North American wild turkeys. The Eastern Wild Turkey, subject of this print, has reddish-brown tail tips.

John A. Ruthven is a wildlife artist based in his native Ohio, as well as a naturalist, author and lecturer. A major retrospective exhibition of his work at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History was titled “John A. Ruthven — In the Audubon Tradition,” an apt characterization since like John James Audubon, his paintings are the result of careful study of the bird in the field as well as from preserved bird skins. In addition, they are rendered in meticulous accurate detail, including plants from their natural habitat as part of the composition. Indeed, the offered aquatint based on Ruthven’s painting was printed on the same type of paper Audubon used for his Elephant Folio. Ruthven selected the colorists for the aquatints, who provided the additional hand coloring to match his original paintings; they each respectively signed the prints in pencil along the bottom edge.

Ruthven was drafted into the Navy right after high school and served two years during World War II. He was interested in art and was essentially self-taught, also doing some drawing and cartooning for the Navy. After his discharge he opened a commercial art studio in Cincinnati in 1946. In 1960 Ruthven won the Federal Duck Stamp competition, a major prize for a bird artist, which he characterizes as a defining moment for his career, because he was immediately approached by Abercrombie & Fitch to sell his work nationwide. From that point on he was able to devote himself to wildlife art full time. He has also produced works on other natural history subjects, such as mushrooms and other animals. He has traveled around the world on commission to paint wildlife. Ruthven’s works have been exhibited nationally and internationally at both art and natural history museums, including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, New York, and the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, New Jersey, and are also in numerous public and corporate collections. In 2004, Ruthven was awarded the National of Medals of Arts in a ceremony at the White House.

Norma Gloria Morgan is an engraver and painter known for her printmaking and Expressionist imagery. An African-American artist, she studied at the Arts Student League with Hans Hofmann, and with the renowned printmaker Stanley W. Hayter. Her works are in the collections of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has won numerous awards for her work.

Inscriptions in Title Block: Original Watercolour by John A Ruthven. 140/776. Engraved by Norma Morgan. Printed by Andersen-Lamb (Hand-coloured), New York. Published by Wildlife Internationale, Georgetown, Ohio, U.S.A. © 1977.

Condition: Generally fine overall with only minor handling. Signed by Ruthven in pencil.  Also signed by the colorist, bottom left edge.

References:

“Wild Turkey.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2017. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Wild_Turkey/overview (4 September 2018).

“CET Express – John Ruthven.” Cincinnati Public Media. 13 July 2006. http://www.cetconnect.org/genericPlayer.asp?id=417 (5 September 2008).

Hollister, Dean, Amy I. Furman, Mary Bruccoli and Tamara Adams, eds. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1989. p. 746.

“John A. Ruthven — The 20th Century Audubon.” Ruthven.com. http://ruthven.com/about-me/ (30 August 2018).

“Norma Gloria Morgan.” AskArt.com. 2000-2008. http://www.askart.com/AskART/artists/search/ArtistKeywords.aspx?artist=106989 (8 September 2008).