Catch of the Day

An­tique fish prints from the turn of the cen­tury make a hand­some ad­di­tion to your sea­far­ing walls.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Extra - BY JICKIE TOR­RES • PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY BRET GUM

It may have been more a spirit of science than vir­tu­os­ity that drove artists to ren­der il­lus­tra­tions of fish species dur­ing the mid-1800s and early 1900s, but that doesn’t mean these pages aren’t won­der­ful works of art to­day.

Bi­o­log­i­cally ac­cu­rate and col­or­fully il­lus­trated, they make el­e­gant framed art­works to col­lect. You’ll find them in an­tique study and re­search books, though to­day cu­ra­tors of­ten pre­pare them as sin­gle works with prices rang­ing from $45 to $100 (com­monly)—even up­wards of $1,000 for the rarest sam­ples.

The art form’s ear­li­est il­lus­tra­tors in­clude Mar­cus Bloch (1723–99), a Ger­man physi­cian from Ber­lin and, ac­cord­ing to the web­site The Philadel­phia Printshop Ltd., one of the ear­li­est stu­dents of fish to pub­lish a se­ries of fish prints. Sher­man Den­ton was an American il­lus­tra­tor who be­gan doc­u­ment­ing fish dur­ing the early 1900s, thanks to the pop­u­lar­ity of sport fish­ing as cham­pi­oned by Teddy Roo­sevelt. His il­lus­tra­tions com­mis­sioned by the U.S. Fish Com­mis­sion at the Smith­so­nian In­sti­tute will fetch around $250.

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