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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index A > John James Audubon Quotes

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John James Audubon
(26 Apr 1785 - 27 Jan 1851)

French-American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his finely detailed drawings and paintings of North American birds.


Science Quotes by John James Audubon (4 quotes)

A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children. [Misattributed?]
— John James Audubon
Probably not an authentic quote by Audubon. For example, attributed without citation, in Guy Dauncey and Patrick Mazza, Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change‎ (2001), 211. Compare with how Wendell Berry quotes the idea in 1971, “I am speaking of the life of a man who knows the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” (See elsewhere on this site). So far, Webmaster has found no instance of the quote contemporary with Audubon. If you know a primary print source exists, please contact webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Borrow (12)  |  Children (20)  |  Conservationist (2)  |  Father (44)  |  Gift (47)

As I grew up I was fervently desirous of becoming acquainted with Nature.
— John James Audubon
In John James Audubon, Alice Ford, Audubon, by Himself: a Profile of John James Audubon from Writings (1969), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquaint (4)  |  Fervent (4)  |  Nature (1029)

Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. ... Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.
[Recalling his time spent at his father's property, Mill Grove, during his first visit to America.]
— John James Audubon
In John James Audubon and Lucy Audubon (editor), The Life of John James Audubon: the Naturalist (1869), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Drawing (18)  |  Fishing (12)  |  Hunting (7)  |  Moment (61)  |  Music (66)  |  Naught (4)  |  Occupation (37)

Nature indifferently copied is far superior to the best idealities.
— John James Audubon
Journal entry (1 Mar 1827). On an artist’s goal to faithfully reproduce nature as actually observed, not stylized or contrived. He explained this credo a young artist (J.B. Kidd, age 19) over breakfast. Stated in John James Audubon and Mrs. Audubon (ed.), The Life and Adventures of John James Audubon, the Naturalist (1868), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (129)  |  Copy (13)  |  Ideal (52)  |  Indifferent (9)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Superior (30)



Quotes by others about John James Audubon (5)

In assessing Audubon, whose firm grip on the popular imagination has scarcely lessened since 1826, we must as historians of science seriously ask who would remember him if he had not been an artist of great imagination and flair. ... The chances seem to be very poor that had he not been an artist, he would be an unlikely candidate for a dictionary of scientific biography, if remembered to science at all.
In Charles Coulston Gillespie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1972), Vol. 1, 331.
Science quotes on:  |  Artist (46)  |  Biography (227)  |  Candidate (2)  |  Dictionary (13)  |  Firm (19)  |  Grip (8)  |  Historian (30)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Remember (53)  |  Unlikely (12)

[Audubon’s works are] the most splendid monuments which art has erected in honor of ornithology.
Introduction by Jas. Grant Wilson's to John James Audubon and Lucy Audubon (editor), The Life of John James Audubon: the Naturalist (1869), iv.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Erect (3)  |  Honour (23)  |  Monument (19)  |  Ornithology (16)  |  Splendid (8)

On entering his [John James Audubon] room, I was astonished and delighted to find that it was turned into a museum. The walls were festooned with all kinds of birds’ eggs, carefully blown out and strung on a thread. The chimney-piece was covered with stuffed squirrels, raccoons, and opossums; and the shelves around were likewise crowded with specimens, among which were fishes, frogs, snakes, lizards, and other reptiles. Besides these stuffed varieties, many paintings were arrayed on the walls, chiefly of birds.
In Richard Rhodes, John James Audubon: The Making of an American (2004), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  Astonishment (19)  |  Bird (96)  |  Delight (51)  |  Egg (41)  |  Festoon (3)  |  Fish (85)  |  Frog (30)  |  Lizard (4)  |  Museum (22)  |  Opossum (2)  |  Painting (24)  |  Reptile (23)  |  Room (29)  |  Shelf (5)  |  Snake (14)  |  Specimen (12)  |  Squirrel (7)  |  Wall (20)

He was an admirable marksman, an expert swimmer, a clever rider, possessed of great activity [and] prodigious strength, and was notable for the elegance of his figure and the beauty of his features, and he aided nature by a careful attendance to his dress. Besides other accomplishments he was musical, a good fencer, danced well, and had some acquaintance with legerdemain tricks, worked in hair, and could plait willow baskets.
In Richard Rhodes, John James Audubon: The Making of an American (2004), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (57)  |  Activity (97)  |  Basket (5)  |  Clothing (8)  |  Dancer (4)  |  Elegance (20)  |  Fencer (2)  |  Legerdemain (2)  |  Marksman (2)  |  Musician (11)  |  Notable (2)  |  Rider (2)  |  Strength (63)  |  Swimmer (2)  |  Trick (19)

I was a reasonably good student in college ... My chief interests were scientific. When I entered college, I was devoted to out-of-doors natural history, and my ambition was to be a scientific man of the Audubon, or Wilson, or Baird, or Coues type—a man like Hart Merriam, or Frank Chapman, or Hornaday, to-day.
In Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (1913), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Ambition (25)  |  College (27)  |  Interest (170)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Student (131)


See also:
  • 26 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Audubon's birth.
  • John James Audubon: The Making of an American, by Richard Rhodes. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for John James Audubon.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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