on reverse, written twice at right angles, now obscured by lining fabric (photo in NGA curatorial file): W.B. Audubon
The artist [1812-1862]; probably by inheritance to his second wife, Caroline Hall Audubon [1811-1899], Salem, New York; by inheritance to their son, William Bakewell Audubon [1847-1932], Australia; by inheritance to his son, Leonard Benjamin Audubon [1888-1951], Sydney, Australia; sold 1950 to E.J.L. Hallstrom [1886-1970], Sydney, Australia; gift 1951 to NGA.
- Audubon Paintings and Prints from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1951.
- Extended loan for use by Ambassador Thomas Michael Tulliver Niles, U.S. Embassy residence, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1985-1989.
- John James Audubon in the West: The Last Expedition, Mammals of North America, Buffalo Bill Hist. Ctr., Cody; Acad. of Nat. Sci., Phil. [not shown]; Houston Mus. of Nat. Sci.; Autry Mus. of Western Heritage, Los Angeles, 2000-2001, unnumb. cat., repro.
- Ford, Alice, ed. Audubon's Animals. New York, 1951: 216.
- American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 12, repro.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 21, repro.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 22, repro.
- Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 19-21, color repro.
The original support is a plain-weave fabric. The painting has been lined. The paint was generally applied thinly and transparently. In the foreground the warm, off-white ground layer shows through the brushstrokes, creating a luminosity in some of the browns. The ferret was accomplished with fine brush strokes of thinly applied paint to suggest the texture of fur. The painting is in a very poor condition, with numerous small losses of paint and ground. The largest loss, the size of a quarter, is in the center of the sky above the ferret's back. In 1989, the painting was relined and a new varnish coating was applied over remnants of an old, discolored varnish layer. Inpainting in the sky has whitened.