Audubon Collection: Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule print

Plate 205
Havell CCCV 

Purple Gallinule

(Porphyrula martinzca)

Audubon apparently painted this gallinule during the spring of 1822 in Louisiana. The habitat, done in oil, was probably added some time after the bird was drawn. (In Havell's engraving, the three small figures of birds in the distance were deleted.) Audubon's commentary on this plate was notably discreet: "Reader, although you may think it strange, I candidly assure you that I have experienced a thousand times more pleasure while looking at the Purple Gallinule flirting its tail while gaily moving over the broad leaves of the water-lily, than I have ever done while silently sitting in the corner of a crowded apartment, gazing on the flutterings of gaudy fans and the wavings of flowing plumes .... Methinks I now see the charming creature gliding sylphlike over the leaves that cover the lake ... seeking the mate, who, devotedly attached as he is, has absented himself, perhaps in search of some secluded spot in which to place their nest. Now he comes . ... Now both birds walk along ... their voices clearly disclosing their mutual feelings of delight, and they retire to some concealed place ... where we lose sight of them for a time." 

Source: The Original Water-Color Paintings by John James Audubon. Copyright 1966 by American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.

Learn more about this print on the National Audubon Society's website.

Learn more about the Library's Audubon Collection.