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Natural History Art, Fish, Marcus Bloch, Antique Prints, Berlin, 18th Century


Marcus Elieser Bloch (1723-1799) (editor)
J.F. Hennig, Kruger junior, Plumier et al. (after)
J.F. Hennig, L. Schmidt, A.F. Schmidt, G. Bodenehr, et al. (engravers)
Fish Prints
from Ichthyologie, ou Histoire Naturelle, Generale et Particulaire. Avec des Figures Enluminées, Dessinées d’apres Nature
[Icthyology, or Natural History, General and Particular. With Illuminated Plates, Drawn After Nature]

Chez l’auteur, Berlin: 1785-1797
Hand-colored engravings, oblong folio
10.5 x 17 inches, overall
8 x 14.75 inches, plate mark
$575 each

Natural history fish studies from the finest ichthyology color plate set ever produced — a monumental and beautiful work that continued to be a primary reference for the naturalists into the 19th century and is still admired today for its sumptuous illustrations. The plates reproduce the bright natural coloring of the fish, some of which were heightened with gold, silver or bronze to imitate the metallic sheen of scales and which gives some plates a slight iridescence.

Marcus Elieser Bloch was born in Anspach, Germany, and began his career as a doctor in Berlin. Later in life, at the age of 56, he turned to the study of fish. Following the practice of other naturalists during the Enlightenment, he collected specimens locally and through correspondence, and involved himself with a network of scholarly contacts in Central Europe. His first scientific work of importance — a treatise on worms – won him a prize from the Academy of Copenhagen. This was followed by his pioneering major work on fish, Icthyologie, or histoire naturelle, générale et particuliére, in which he described over 200 species for the first time accompanied by hand-colored copperplate engravings.


Catalog Listing. USC Hancock Library of Biology and Oceanography. 15 August 2002. (5 November 2003).

Nissen, Schöne Fischbücher, 23; cf. Nissen ZBI 415; cf. Wood p.244.


Additional information


18th Century