Tropical Fish Gouache Paintings
Walter Alois Weber
Weber tropical fish painting

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Walter Alois Weber (1906-1979)
Tropical Fish
American: 1929-1930
Gouache on toned paper
Provenance: Countess and Count Rudolf Anton Bernatschke, New York
11 x 15 inches, overall, average
Queen Trigger Fish and Spanish Hog Fish, Sold as a Pair: $3,600
Redbelly Tilapia: $1,800
Rainbow Parrotfish and Unicorn Fish, Sold as a Pair: $4,800

Natural history paintings of tropical fish, with attention to accurate and detailed depiction of the forms and coloration. Some are shown with a full background of a coral reef, others isolated on the page. All of them are painted in gouache (opaque watercolor) on paper with a neutral gray-green-blue tint that suggests the underwater environment and that sets off the fishes' bright, lively colors. Species depicted are the Rainbow Parrotfish, Queen Triggerfish and Spanish Hogfish, which are all found in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean (including the West Indies); the Unicorn Fish, which is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific region; and the Redbelly Tilapia, which is found in the waters of tropical and subtropical Africa, and the Near East.

Walter Alois Weber was a prominent American wildlife artist of the mid 20th century. He was born in Chicago, and began taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago as a child. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in zoology and botany in 1927 and continued studying at the Art Institute. He was mentored by animal artists Allan Brooks and Carl Rungius. From 1928 to 1931, he worked for the Field Museum of Natural History, and afterwards as a freelance wildlife artist. In 1936, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work as chief scientific illustrator for the National Park Service. In the 1940s he worked as an ornithologist at the U.S. National Museum and as a freelance artist. He had a long association with the National Geographic Society, working as a staff artist and naturalist from 1949 until his retirement in 1971. In 1967, the U.S. Department of the Interior gave him its highest honor, the Conservation Service Award.

Weber's work was published in seven books sponsored by the Wildlife Management Institute, as well as Book of Dogs, Song and Garden Birds of North America, Water Prey and Game Birds of North America, Wondrous World of Fishes, Wild Animals of North America, Birds of Colorado, Birds of the Republic of Panama, and Breeding Birds of North Dakota. His paintings appeared on over 250 stamps issued by the National Wildlife Federation from 1940 to 1961, and he designed two federal duck stamps.

Condition: Each generally fine overall — the colors rich and vibrant — with only minor toning and handling. Few very short marginal tears or creases, restored. Color of paper tones varies, as issued.

Reference:

"Walter Alois Weber." Washington Biologists' Field Club. 17 May 2016. http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/resshow/perry/bios/weberwalter.htm (20 May 2016).