Walton Ford
Nantes, 2009
etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper
paper: 48 3/4 x 37 1/8 inches; 121.3 x 93.7 cm
image: 39 3/4 x 29 7/8 inches; 101 x 75.9 cm
Edition of 65 


"One incident which is as perfect in my memory as if it had occurred this very day, I have thought of thousands of times since, and will now put on papers one of the curious things which perhaps did lead me in after times to love birds, and to finally study them with pleasure infinite. My mother had several beautiful parrots and some monkeys; on of the latter was full-grown male of a very large species. One morning, while the servants were engaged in arranging the room I was in, "Pretty Polly" asking for her breakfast as usual, "Du pain au lait pour le perroquet Mignonne," the man of the woods probably thought the bird presuming upon his rights in scale of nature; be this as it may, he certainly showed his supremacy in strength over the denizen of the air, for, walking deliberately and uprightly toward the poor bird, he at once killed it, with unnatural composure. The sensation of my infant heart at this cruel sight were agony to me. I prayed the servant to beat the monkey, but he, who for some reason preferred the monkey to the parrot, refused. I uttered long and piercing cries, my mother rushed in to the room, I was tranquilized, the monkey was forever afterward chained, and Mignnone buried with all the pomp of cherished lost one. This made, as I have said, avery deep impression on my youthful mind".

From AUDUBON'S STORY OF HIS YOUTH, By John James Audubon (1785-1851), whose attraction to birds began early. The writings were discovered in an old calfskin-bound volume, and published over 40 years after his death by his granddaughter Maria R. Audubon in SCRIBNER'S MAGAZINE, vol 1, no.3, March 1893.


WALTON FORD’s watercolors and editioned prints expand the visual language and narrative scope of traditional natural history painting, meditating on the often violent and bizarre moments at the intersection of human culture and the natural world. Although human figures rarely appear in his works, their presence is always implied.

Ford’s work is included in a number of private and public collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of Art. A survey of Ford’s work was organized by the Brooklyn Museum in 2006 and traveled to the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas and the Norton Museum of Art in Florida in 2007. In 2010 – 2011, Ford’s midcareer retrospective traveled from the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum Fur Gegenwart in Berlin, to the Albertina in Vienna and to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. Ford was recently the subject of a solo exhibition within the Musée de la Chasse, Paris. Taschen Books has issued three editions of his large format monograph, Pancha Tantra.