Selection from Birds and Animals of the United States

  • Winthrop Duthie Turney, Selection from Birds and Animals of the United States, 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, 1974.28.75

Artist Winthrop Turney created this painting as a fantasy gathering of American wildlife visually spanning his nation from coast to coast. The artist hoped that this painting of animals grouped around a lavender-tinted tree would become a large mural to adorn a school. The mural would show urban schoolchildren American animals from a variety of environments. Denizens of the eastern coast and swamps inhabit the foreground: the Florida alligator basks below a flying American pelican and a tern; an anhinga spreads its wings to dry; and an egret stands in the lower right corner. The woodland animals are further back: a gray squirrel perches on a tree branch while the striped skunk, groundhog, black bear, wolverine, American porcupine, and red fox stand on the middle ground. In the background are creatures native to the western plains and mountains: the coyote, turkey vulture, pronghorn antelope, mountain lion, and mountain goat. Like the children for whom he painted, Turney lived in New York. He probably knew the gray squirrels of Central Park better than the other animals in the picture, which he saw only in pictures and New York-area zoos.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Selection from Birds and Animals of the United States
Not on view
3236 18 in. (81.391.6 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from the General Services Administration

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • New Deal – Public Works of Art Project – New York City
  • Animal – skunk
  • Fantasy – animal
  • Landscape – tree
  • Animal – bird – stork
  • Animal – bear
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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