(1874 - 1927)

Louis Agassiz Fuertes (7 February 1874 Ithaca, New York – 22 August 1927 Unadilla) was an American ornithologist, illustrator and artist.


Fuertes was the son of Estevan and Mary Stone Perry Fuertes. He decided to concentrate on painting birds as a career after meeting Elliott Coues in 1894 while on a trip to Washington, D.C. with the Cornell University Glee Club. He would receive the first of his many commissions for illustrating birds while still an undergraduate. At Cornell, he was elected to the Sphinx Head Society, the oldest senior honor society at the University. He graduated from Cornell in 1897.

In 1899, he accompanied E. H. Harriman on his famous exploration of the Alaska coastline, the Harriman Alaska Expedition. Following this, Fuertes would travel across much of the United States and to many countries in pursuit of birds, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Ethiopia. Fuertes collaborated with Frank Chapman, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, on many assignments including field research, background dioramas at the museum, and book illustrations. While on a collecting expedition with Chapman in Mexico, Fuertes discovered a species of oriole. Chapman would name the bird after his friend, Icterus fuertesi, commonly called Fuerte’s Oriole.[1]

Fuertes lectured on ornithology at Cornell University from 1923, and the libraries there hold extensive collections of his artwork and personal papers. In 1926-27 he participated in the Chicago Field Museum/Daily News Abyssinian (Ethiopia) Expedition led by Wilfred Hudson Osgood. He would produce some of his most exquisite bird and mammal watercolors as a result of this trip. He was killed in an accident not long after returning to his home in Ithaca, New York. Fuertes would be a major influence on many wildlife artists to follow including George Miksch Sutton, whom he mentored, Roger Tory Peterson, and Jörg Kühn.


Fuertes made 25 decorative panels for F. F. Brewster of New Haven, Connecticut. He illustrated more than 60 books and contributed hundreds of works for magazine articles.[2] The following are some noted books published during and after his lifetime.

·           Birding on a Broncho, 1896

·           Citizen Bird by Mabel Osgood Wright and Elliot Coues. Macmillan Company, 1896 (illustrations from Citizen Bird).

·           Song Birds and Water Fowl, 1897

·           Bird Craft, 1897

·           The Woodpeckers, 1901

·           Second Book of Birds, 1901

·           Birds of the Rockies, 1902

·           Handbook of Birds of Western North America, 1902

·           Upland Game Birds, 1902

·           Key to North American Birds by Elliot Coues. Estes & Lauriat, 1903 (illustrations from Key to North American Birds).

·           Report of the New York State Game, Forest and Fish Commission, 1903

·           Waterfowl, 1903

·           Birds of New York by Elon Howard Eaton. University of the State of New York, 1910 (illustrations from Birds of New York).

·           Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America, 1912

·           Wild Animals of North America by Edward W. Nelson. National Geographic Society, 1918

·           Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States by Edward Howe Forbush. Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, 1925.

·           Artist and Naturalist in Ethiopia by Wilfred Hudson Osgood. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1936. Fuertes painted 16 color plates for this book. It records the 1926–27 Chicago Field Museum/Daily News Ethiopian Expedition. Fuertes died only weeks after returning from the trip. (Most illustrations from the expedition were published as Album of Abyssinian Birds and Mammals.)

·           The Bird Life of Texas by Harry Church Oberholser. University of Texas Press, 1974.


In 1927, the Boy Scouts of America made Fuertes an Honorary Scout, a new category of Scout created that same year. This distinction was give to "American citizens whose achievements in outdoor activity, exploration and worthwhile adventure are of such an exceptional character as to capture the imagination of boys...". The other eighteen who were awarded this distinction were: Roy Chapman Andrews; Robert Bartlett; Frederick Russell Burnham; Richard E. Byrd; George Kruck Cherrie; James L. Clark; Merian C. Cooper; Lincoln Ellsworth; George Bird Grinnell; Charles A. Lindbergh; Donald Baxter MacMillan; Clifford H. Pope; George Palmer Putnam; Kermit Roosevelt; Carl Rungius; Stewart Edward White; Orville Wright. [3]


1.    ^ Robert McCracken Peck, A Celebration of Birds, The Life and Art of Louis Agassiz Fuertes (Published for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia by Walker and Company, 1982), p. 126.

2.    ^ Louis Agassiz Fuertes and the Singular Beauty of Birds, ed. Frederick Marcham (Harper and Row, Publishers, 1971), p. 9.

3.    ^ "Around the World"Time (magazine). August 29 1927. Retrieved 2007-10-24.


§  Peck, Robert McCracken. A Celebration of Birds, The Life and Art of Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Published for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia by Walker and Company, 1982. ISBN 0-8027-0716-5

§  Louis Agassiz and the Singular Beauty of Birds. Frederick George Marcham, Editor. Harper and Row, Publishers, 1971. ISBN 06-012775-9

§  Norelli, Martina R. American Wildlife Painting (Fuertes, Audubon, Heade, Wilson, Thayer, Catesby) Watson-Guptill Publications, 1975. ISBN 0-8230-0217-9

§  image001_90df0503ee.gif "Fuertes, Louis Agassiz". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.

§  "Hillhouse Family Genealogy: Register Report of Abraham Hillhouse". Retrieved March 8, 2011.

§  "The Auk, Volume 45, Number 1, January, 1928, Frank Michler Chapman: In Memorian: Louis Agassiz Fuertes 1874-1927".

External links

§  Works by Louis Agassiz Fuertes at Project Gutenberg

§  Cornell University--has links to material on Harriman Expedition, many digitized images of art

§  Abyssinian Birds and Mammals: Painted from life by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1930) Online PDF edition

§  Louis A. Fuertes and the Zoological Art of the 1926–1927 Abyssinian Expedition of The Field Museum of Natural History by Paul Johnsgard (2008)


Source: Wikipedia
Contributed by Anonymous
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