The Italian-born painter Athos Menaboni was considered by many, to quote a 1950 Time magazine headline, “Audubon’s heir.”
Metro nature and art lovers can compare and contrast for themselves with an exhibit by the late Atlantan Menaboni (1895-1990) starting Saturday at Oak Hill & the Martha Berry Museum in Rome and a just-opened John James Audubon (1785-1851) exhibit at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.
“Menaboni’s Birds: Georgia’s Own Artist as Naturalist,” including 37 paintings, many drawn from private collections and never shown publicly before, will be presented at the historic house and history museum on the estate of Martha Berry, founder of Berry College.
Menaboni was born in Italy and spent more than 60 years in Georgia, where he became one of the state’s most appreciated artists. He met Atlanta architect Philip Shutze in the 1920s and was commissioned to paint murals at iconic sites such as Atlanta’s Swan House and Sapelo Island’s R.J. Reynolds estate. Menaboni’s friendship with Robert W. Woodruff resulted in works including murals in Coca-Cola’s corporate jets and four decades of the Woodruff family’s annual Christmas cards.
Meanwhile, “John James Audubon: Swift Birds of Passage,” on view at Oglethorpe University Museum, focuses on rare Audubon prints, primarily of birds that are native to, or migratory through, the region.
The show was organized by the Oglethorpe museum along with Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum and the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Va. The pieces came from collections of the three institutions (including more than 30 double elephant — or large-scale — folio Havell edition prints from the Auburn museum) as well as from a private Brookhaven collection.
The exhibit is complemented by a selection of avian bronzes by New York artist Lee H. Letts.
“John James Audubon: Swift Birds of Passage”
Through Aug. 23 at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. Noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. $5; under 12, free. 4484 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-364-8555, museum.oglethorpe.edu.
“Menaboni’s Birds: Georgia’s Own Artist as Naturalist”
Opening Saturday, through Sept. 12 at Oak Hill & the Martha Berry Museum. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. $8, $7 ages 55 and up, $5 students, free ages 5 and under. 24 Veterans Memorial Highway, Rome. 706-368-6789, www.berry.edu/oakhill.