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John James Audubon was a French-American painter and naturalist. He produced many paintings of North American birds and animals, including his masterwork Birds of America. A somewhat fictionalized version of Audubon is central to the plot of Fever Dream.

Audubon was a personal friend of Pendergast family scion Boethius Pendergast. He lived across the street from the Pendergast estate, Rochenoire, on Dauphine Street, New Orleans. The Pendergasts were early patrons of Audubon's work.

While investigating his late wife's past, Aloysius Pendergast came across the story of The Black Frame, a lost painting that was considered Audubon's first great work. He found that Helen had been very interested in the painting and subsquently tracked its history, eventually locating it in Port Allen, Louisiana. In the end he found that Helen's interest lay not in the painting, but in Audubon himself, and a mysterious illness that transformed him from a mediocre artist to a great one.

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