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Fish Stories: Early Images of American Game Fish

April 4 – October 4, 2015

Game Fishes of the United States, one of the largest and most spectacular of American sporting books, was printed in 1879 -1880 at the zenith of late nineteenth-century American chromolithography. The work, which is included in the Crystal Bridges Library collection, features 20 gorgeous color plates based on the original watercolor paintings by well-known sporting artist Samuel Kilbourne, with text written by ichthyologist George Brown Goode, head of the fish research programs of the US Fish Commission and the Smithsonian. The color plates capture a number of distinctly American fishes in their natural surroundings, including the striped bass, sheepshead, bluefish, weakfish, red snapper, pompano, and brook trout. Each fish’s shimmering colors and delicate scales are amazingly vivid. This classic collection elegantly conveys the drama of sport fishing and highlights the exploration and celebration of nature in American art—one of the major themes in Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection.

Samuel Kilbourne (1836 -1881) was a native of Bridgetown, Maine. He was trained as a landscape painter and painted a variety of landscapes until about 1858 when he took up the painting of fish. He painted on commission for both scientists and sportsmen, but he is remembered as part of the tradition of American sporting art. He had just completed the series of illustrations for Game Fish of the United States at the time of his death.

Sponsored By

Paul and June Carter Family, Paul and Karen Mahan, Randy and Valorie Lawson/ Lawco Energy Group, Mark and Diane Simmons