White bream – Markus Elieser Bloch, 1782-1795

THE WHITE BREAM “Tracinus Drago/Das Petermännchen/La Vive/The Common Weever” (plate 10), copper engraving made by Ludwig Schmidt after the drawing…

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Tracinus Drago/Das Petermännchen/La Vive/The Common Weever” (plate 10), copper engraving made by Ludwig Schmidt after the drawing of Krüger jr, for Markus Elieser Bloch’s “Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische” published in Berlin between 1782 and 1795. With original hand colouring. Size: 19 x 38 cm.

According to Bloch in his Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische, a 12-volume, beautifully illustrated comprehensive work on fishes: “The white bream can be easily recognized by its broad and thin body and the twenty five rays in the anal fin. The head of this fish is only small and tapered off. When the mouth is closed, the upper jaw protrudes slightly in front of the lower one. The mouth opening is so small that even with a fish eight inches long, I could not get my little finger into it without hurting the fish. White bream is one of our most common fish; it is found all year round in all our lakes and gently flowing rivers, which have a sandy or marbled ground: but because it is not meaty and also has many small bones, it is not appreciated and therefore only serves the common man as food, which they eat with a sour broth or with knödel and bacon. Boiled with milk or cream, it should be as tasty as the carp. It spawns in the grass on flat banks in May and June and is so much into its own business at the time, that you can grab it with your hands.”

Bloch’s labour on the “Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische” occupied a considerable portion of his life, and is considered to have laid the foundations of the science of ichthyology. The publication was encouraged by a large subscription, and it passed rapidly through five editions in German and in French. Bloch made little or no alteration in the systematic arrangement of Peter Artedi and Carl Linnaeus, although he was disposed to introduce into the classification some modifications depending on the structure of the gills. To the number of genera before established, he found it necessary to add nineteen new ones, and he described 276 species new to science, many of them inhabitants of the remotest parts of the ocean, and by the brilliancy of their colours, or the singularity of their forms, as much objects of popular admiration as of scientific curiosity.

Bloch is considered the most important ichthyologist of the 18th century.

Price: Euro 275,-