I have been thinking and writing about Audubon’s story of the Fair Incognito, the woman who commissioned him to draw her portrait in the nude, for the past two or three years. I kept returning to the subject because I never thought I really understood why the artist felt compelled to set this story down in words, and to do so in a letter to—of all people—his wife. Was his purpose serious or trivial?
Now, I think I’ve finally found a critical framework that not only helps to explain what he meant by this story but that places it at the very center of his development as an artist. You can read all about it in the article I just published in the venerable and always provocative online magazine, the Journal of Wild Culture. The article link is here. As always, a big shout-out to JWC’s perspicacious editor, Whitney Smith, who has kept me on the straight-and-narrow over the last twelve months with his wise queries and gentle prodding.