The art of the other 'Audubon'

Louis Agassiz Fuertes is not a household name, but he was the foremost bird illustrator of his time. Some historians and ornithologists say he was the most accurate and expressive bird artist ever.

From the 1890s until his death in 1927, Fuertes produced thousands of bird illustrations.. Many of his watercolors, washes, and sketches were created in the wild, in less than 30 minutes. Fuertes, a native of Ithaca, N.Y., and later a lecturer at Cornell University, illustrated dozens of books. He traveled across North America as well as Central and South America, Europe, and Africa.

Fuertes's work has long been valued by the scientific community. But because the watercolors are fragile and must be protected from sunlight, few have been viewed by the public. Some of the artist's best works, created on scientific expeditions, are stored in the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Field Museum in Chicago.

Now 2,500 of his images are available online via Cornell's rare and manuscript collection. The Web address is: rmc.library.cornell.edu/Birds

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