Born to a French Plantation owner and his mistress, John James Audubon spent his youth near Nantes, France, taking a deep interest in the natural world from an early age. While still a child, Audubon began drawing wild plants and animals as a hobby. By age 18 he was sent to America to escape forced enlistment in Napolean’s army. First settling in Philadelphia and later Kentucky, Audubon worked as a dry-goods salesman for over a decade, all the while, maintaining an interest in wildlife, particularly birds. It was
that lifelong interest in birds combined with a period of bankruptcy in 1819, that led Audubon to set out and document America’s birds and share them with the world. Eventually he would document 435 species of birds in America and receive international notoriety for his edition of hand-colored bird prints and his later edition of
American Mammals titled the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, from which this cross fox print originated.