Curator of the Louvre Visits LSU Special Collections

three men look and point at a bird illustration in a large bookLSU Libraries boasts one of the most prestigious Special Collections operations in the country and serves as a destination archive for researchers around the world. In February, a curator from the Louvre Museum in Paris, visited LSU Libraries Special Collections to view the famed double elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (London, 1827-1838), an illustrated compendium of the birds in the United States that is considered one of the finest, and largest, ornithological works ever completed.

Blaise Ducos, curator of 17th- and 18th-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings at the Louvre, visited LSU’s campus to give a Paula G. Manship Endowed Lecture titled, “Bodies as the End? The Inquiry into the Human Form in Rembrandt’s Time” to the College of Art & Design. Ducos also carved out time to spend a couple of hours in Special Collections, where he and LSU Art History Professor Darius Spieth spent time with Special Collections’ staff delving into their Audubon-related materials. While Ducos didn’t have time to view all four volumes of Audubon’s work, he was still able to fulfill his desire to view one of the most sought-after books in the world.

“I was thrilled to be given access to Audubon’s publication, a favorite of mine, the rarity and preciousness of which never cease to make me wonder. I’d like to extend a warm thank you to John Miles and the whole team for having me,” Ducos said.

three men smile as they view an illustration of penguins

According to John David Miles, curator of books in LSU Libraries Special Collections, “Sharing Audubon’s work with patrons is one of the great privileges of my job, and to share that enthusiasm with Mr. Ducos during his visit was a real treat. That LSU has holdings such as this, materials that attract the interest of a curator from one of the world’s preeminent cultural heritage institutions and who don’t themselves have a copy, speaks highly of the kind of resources we’re able to provide to our students, faculty, community, and researchers from around the world.”

Audubon was an American artist, naturalist, and ornithologist who was dedicated to the pursuit of collecting and drawing as many North American birds as possible. His magnum opus, Birds of America contains 435 plates depicting 457 bird species. At least 130 out of those 435 were made in Louisiana.

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