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