John James Audubon
1785 - 1851
The Gallery of Illustrious Americans, was intended to portray heroes of the present, conveying both their historical stature and significance for the future. In a review of the portfolio, a critic for The Journal of Commerce wrote that "the grouping together of the most distinguished men of the Nation into a Gallery like this, and at a period like this, is not only a noble and patriotic design, but it will furnish a moment of art and patriotism for coming times." The author of Birds of America and Ornithological Biography, John J. Audubon was included in the Gallery for having joined art and science in celebration of the nation's natural riches. After Audubon named the newly discovered Washington Sea Eagle for George Washington, he wrote: "Not even Herschel...when he discovered the planet which bears his name, could have experienced more rapturous feelings. As the New World gave me birth and liberty, the Great Man who ensured its independence is next to my heart."

Gallery of Illustrious Americans
Francis D'Avignon (born circa 1814), after Mathew Brady
Lithograph, 1850
28 x 24. cm (11 x 9 9/16 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.