Preserving Vintage and Antique Fish Art.
Preserving Vintage and Antique Fish Art.
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S.F. Denton 1895-1907

Prints by Sherman F. Denton. From Annual Report of Fish Forest and Game Commission" State of New York. New York, 1895-1907. Chromolithographs.

The images were drawn by Sherman Foote Denton, who worked as an artist for the U.S. Fish Commission at the Smithsonian Institute and developed a method of mounting fish that preserved their colors as in life. The State of New York Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission then hired Denton to illustrate their annual reports between 1895 and 1907. Denton superb drawings were printed in colors, like his mounted fish, reproducing vividly the appearance of the live fish. These are the standard by which all subsequent fish print are judged.

These beautiful chromolithographs were skillfully executed by one of the very finest of later artists of natural history, Sherman Foote Denton. The Fish and Game of the State of New York Annual Reports 1895-1909, included 99 fresh and saltwater fish as well as several other subjects, including lobsters, oysters, Ring-Necked Pheasant and the Virginia deer. They were published both in books and unbound in a folio set, and it is the prints from the folio set that we are pleased to offer at this time.

Sherman Foote Denton was born in the United States in 1856 (d. 1937) and at a young age traveled extensively in the US & abroad with his naturalist father, teaching himself to draw on his travels. It was a Huckleberry Finn type of existence, which gave him the basis to earn a creative living as an adult through his mastery as a naturalist & artist, not to mention collector of precious stones. Upon his father’s death in New Guinea in 1883, Denton came back to the U.S. to work with the U.S. Fish Commission at the Smithsonian Institute. During this period, he learned the art of taxidermy of fish and while mounting fish, made watercolors of many of his collection. It was from his watercolors of North American fish that the chromolithographs included in the Commission’s reports were taken. The First Annual Report refers to the faithful representation of the illustrations of the subjects.

Denton was a naturalist in the broadest sense. He is known for inventing a special mount for butterflies and, indeed, his butterfly and moth collection was unsurpassed and a large portion was given to Wellesley College later in his life. During one sojourn in the United Kingdom, he put together a collection of every known butterfly and moth native to the British Isles to present to the Prince of Wales on his thirteenth birthday. He was a collector of insects of all kinds, shells, and bird skins and eggs.

Denton loved the field of ethnography and collected Indian relics on his travels. He was also interested in gemstones and found precious and semiprecious minerals and gems amassing a large collection, many of which he himself cut and polished. Denton owned a very valuable collection of American fresh water pearls including one he found that was estimated at the time to be worth $4,000