Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection
At the time of his death, the drawings, paintings and engravings of John James Audubon were universally recognized as providing one of the earliest and most accurate records of American wildlife. Unfortunately, his gift for keen observation and near scientific rendering obscured the more artistic side of his work and subsequent generations viewed him as little more than a wildlife illustrator. Only recently, however, historians have initiated serious research into his oeuvre and now consider Audubon’s celebrated prints to be among the finest artistic achievements of the nineteenth century.
Composed of more than 100 of Audubon’s prints, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art’s Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection is a cornerstone of the museum’s holdings. The collection is particularly rich in Audubon’s most famous series—Birds of America. The collection was amassed by Mr. David Brent Miller during the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Century, Alabama, Miller spent much of his life in Brewton, Alabama, where he operated his family’s successful lumber operation, T. R. Miller Mill Company. He married Louise Hauss who, upon the death of her husband, continued to add to the collection. In 1992, the Millers’ granddaughter, Susan Phillips, made a gift of the Audubon collection to Auburn University to not only honor the contribution of her grandparents but to observe their wish that the Audubon collection remain in Alabama and be readily accessible to the state’s citizens. To accomplish this, Ms. Phillips provided Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art with funds for an endowment for the care, study and conservation of the collection, the funding for galleries, and the funds for the Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Works on Paper Study Room where the collection is housed and available for study when not on exhibition.