Thursday, August 15, 2002

Wildlife painter's descendant tours Ky.

Audubon's relative visits Henderson, memorial museum

By The Associated Press

        HENDERSON - Walter Audubon's interest in his family tree didn't start until the sixth grade, when a teacher asked him a question about a famous ancestor.

        “She was taking attendance and got to my name and asked, "Are you related to John James Audubon?' I told her I didn't know. I'd have to go home and ask my father,” he said.

        Walter Audubon, of New York City, learned he is the great-great-great grandson of one of the world's most famous wildlife painters, John James Audubon. His ancestor, John Woodhouse Audubon was born in Henderson in 1812 and was one of John James Audubon's two sons.

        “My dad had read just about every book on Audubon,” he said. “And he owned a lot of them too. For me, that's how it all started.”

        Since learning about his family tree, Walter Audubon has traveled to many of the places where John James Audubon lived and worked.

        The 67-year-old retired special-education teacher finished his second visit to Henderson Wednesday, during which he toured the Audubon Memorial Museum and attended the unveiling of the new Audubon bird sculpture at the front of the Municipal Center.

        During the five-day visit, Walter Audubon also discussed his book, Last of the Audubon Line, which focuses on his branch of the family and includes an account of his early work years. The title refers to the few remaining relatives with the Audubon last name.

        While his ancestor's paintings intrigue him, Walter Audubon admits he didn't inherit John James Audubon's painting talent.

        “When my brother and I were kids we decided that if we're Audubons we must be able to do artwork,” he said. “We went to an art store and bought oils and canvas and came back home and decided we'd paint Audubon's eagle.”

        “What a mess we made!”


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- Wildlife painter's descendant tours Ky.