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Ocean Fishes is James Prosek’s personal tribute to marine beauty unlike any published before—based on travel, intense observation, work with scientists, and stories of those who know the fish most intimately, the fishermen (both recreational and commercial). It is also the author’s quiet conservation statement. In showing the beauty and monumentality of these fish, Prosek is urging us to preserve what we have before it is lost. These paintings give the reader a privileged view of a fish fresh from the ocean when its changing colors first glint in the sun—a view ordinarily glimpsed only by the fishermen on the boat.

This book is not intended as a scientific catalogue of ocean fishes. each painting reflects Prosek’s individual experience with a single fish—the artist traveled the Atlantic from Nova Scotia to the Cape Verde Islands to see each species firsthand as it came out of the water before it lost its living colors. The original paintings are all life-size portraits (from a 14-inch porgy to a 12-foot, 8-inch blue marlin) and will be exhibited at several venues from Monaco to Philadelphia. Details from these original works are reproduced at full-size in the book to give a sense of scale.

This book is a must-have for saltwater anglers, professional fishermen, conservationists, art lovers, beachcombers, and anyone who is passionate about the beauty of the beach and coastline and the mysteries swimming off of its shores.


Peter Matthiessen is a two-time national Book award– winning author—for The Snow Leopard and Shadow Country. His work, Blue Meridian, is thought to have inspired Peter Benchley to write Jaws in 1974. His 1988 book Men’s Lives is an eloquent portrayal of the disappearing way of life of the Long island fisherman. He lives in Sagaponack, New York.

Robert M. Peck is Curator of Art and Artifacts and Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, as well as a writer, naturalist, and historian who has traveled extensively worldwide.

Christopher Riopelle is the curator of Post-1800 Paintings at The National Gallery, London. he has held curatorial positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, CA, and has curated exhibitions on Renoir, Rodin and Michelangelo, Portraits by Ingres, and Richard Hamilton, among others.