Print

Print


     Since there seems to be some intrest in Wilson,
here's some biographical information.
     Alexander Wilson was born in Scotland, and spent
the first part of his life there as a tradesman,
weaver, and peddler of cloth.  He was passionate about
poetry, and produced some that was considered by his
contemporaries to be the equal of Robert Burns.
Unfortunately (actually fortunately for us) he was
rather outspoken in his views about labor and
management and got into trouble with the law for
slandering a mill owner.  Upon his release from prison
he decided to emigrate to America, and reached
Philadelphia in 1794.  He was 23.
     He found employment as an itinerant teacher, but
soon discovered the birds in his vicinity, and having
been befriended by John Bachman, and other
naturalists, began to draw birds.  His skill
(miniscule at first) grew and in a few years he had
given up teaching and began collecting and painting
birds full time.
     His work is characterized by rather stiff
portrayals of birds, always in side view, unlike
Audubon's imaginative and often oriental positions.
But his data was excellent, with accurate counts of
rectrices and primaries, and good color rendition.
Unlike the few artists that came before him, you can
usually identify Wilson's birds at a glance.  He also
produced the first body of accurate ornithological
writing in America, his American Ornithology.
     Wilson and Audubon only met once, when the former
stumbled into the latter's general store in Henderson,
Kentucky.  Wilson was amazed, and perhaps a bit taken
aback seeing all of Audubon's work, work that he had
no idea even existed.  They birded and hunted together
for a few days, and Wilson even borrowed one or two of
Audubon's drawings to copy, but upon leaving refused
in his diary to even acknowledge his visit with
Audubon.  They never met again, and each continued
their work separately.
     Wilson never married.  He died prematurely in
March 1813 of dysentery, having been weakened by
pneumonia, which he contracted swimming across a river
to retrieve a bird he had shot.  He was 43.  His work
was published posthumously in 1828-1834 by George Ord
of the Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia.  Because
he was the first to really apply science to the study
of birds in America, he is considered to be the
"father" of American ornithology.

Steve Siegel


__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Finance - Get real-time stock quotes
http://finance.yahoo.com

______________________________________________________________________
FLORIDABIRDS-L Listserv mailing list information:
For policy and subscription info:  http://bkpass.tripod.com/index.html
For archives:   http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/floridabirds-l.html
To set nomail:  Mailto:[log in to unmask] Set floridabirds-l nomail
  (then to reverse and return to mail, change the word to "mail")
Listowner: Click on:  Mailto:[log in to unmask]