Icons: John Ruthven, Wildlife Artist


John A. Ruthven is a naturalist, author, lecturer, and internationally acknowledged master of wildlife art. Ruthven’s wildlife paintings are on display at museums including the Smithsonian, and his work was featured in a 1994 retrospective at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.

He is often called the “20th Century Audubon.” Ruthven uses the same techniques as his famous predecessor. After studying and researching his subject thoroughly, he sketches to rigid specifications then renders the original painting with great detail.

In 2004, Ruthven was presented with a National Medal of Arts award for his impeccably accurate and unfailingly beautiful wildlife art, and in recognition of his contributions as an artist and naturalist to conserving our natural treasures.

His fascination with nature began as a young boy in Cincinnati. After serving in World War II, he entered the Cincinnati Art Academy. He opened a commercial art studio in 1946 with the goal of building a career in wildlife art.

In 1960 he entered the Federal Duck Stamp competition and won with his Redhead Ducks. In 1971 Ruthven founded Wildlife Internationale’, Inc. to publish and distribute his limited edition prints. Ruthven was recognized as Duck’s Unlimited First Artist of the Year, First Ohio Duck Stamp Artists, and First Ohio Animal Stamp/Print Artist.

His paintings have been included in acclaimed exhibitions such as The Artist of America Exhibition in Denver, Colorado and the Society of Animal Artist, a traveling museum exhibition included at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, New Jersey. Museums featuring his work include the Smithsonian Institution’s Preservation and Research Center; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin; the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, Jamestown, New York; and the Cincinnati Museum Center where a major retrospective exhibit of his work, “John A. Ruthven – In the Audubon Tradition,” was mounted.

Unveilings of original paintings have taken place at The White House; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; the President’s Palace in the Philippines, for Crown Prince Henri in Luxemborg, at the Neil Armstrong Space Museum, and the Ohio State Capital Rotunda. Among the corporate offices featuring his work are Proctor & Gamble, the Cincinnatti Bengals, John Deere & Company, and the WILDS – International Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals to name a few.

Credits: Photo of John Ruthven, White House photo by Susan Sterner. Duck stamp, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Article source, National Endowment for the Arts, (edited for content).