Attributed to John L. Petrie, Untitled [Trout on Rock, Beside Fishing Pole], 1890s. Oil on canvas. GC164 Kienbusch Angling Collection. Gift of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, Class of 1906.
We believe this painting was a study for William C. Harris’s The Fishes of North America that are Caught on Hook and Line, which was announced with much anticipation by The New York Times on October 8, 1893.
“This work, published in quarters, contains plates of fish, colored as in life and of handsome size, with appropriate text. The excellence of these plates is at once discernible. Mr. Harris seems to have been determined to select of the finest specimens of fish he could find, and, being an angler of distinction, he has caught all the fish and used them as models for his illustrations.”
” …Instantly, before the evanescent hues of the fish had faded, Mr. Harris, with his artist, recorded all the colors. Lovers of angling who study natural history will find in this publication not only amusement but instruction.”
“It can be readily understood that a work of this character, where so much depends on illustrations, is one that presents particular difficulties. As there are to be eighty colored plates it can be seen how ambitious is the work and how costly must be its manufacture. In some respects Mr. Harris’s work may take rank with Audubon’s on birds. He has been fortunate in interesting many representative anglers all over the country, and it is believed that to-day the success of the venture is assured.”
Harris’s book was published in parts from 1895 to 1898 with chromolithographic plates by John L. Petrie, who accompanied him throughout the United States. The author writes in his preface, “Mr. John L. Petrie, the artist, has been my steadfast companion during this protracted but pleasant task. He has painted the portraits of each fish represented … from living specimens caught on my own rod, with the exception of the Pacific Salmons, which were taken alive in traps.”