Birds have featured in culture and art since prehistoric times, when they were represented in early cave paintings. Some birds have been perceived as monsters, including the mythological Roc and the Māori's legendary Pouākai, a giant bird capable of snatching humans. Birds were later used as symbols of power, as in the magnificent Peacock Throne of the Mughal and Persian emperors. With the advent of scientific interest in birds, many paintings of birds were commissioned for books.
Among the most famous of these bird artists was John James Audubon, whose paintings of North American birds were a great commercial success in Europe and who later lent his name to the National Audubon Society.