A large and glorious penmanship rendering of… a fish. Superbly executed in a way that it begins to suggest a melding of organic and mechanical. Jules Verne-esque. Emphatically inscribed and signed along the bottom "Struck With a Metallic Pen in 30 Minutes by John J. Shove". The ends of the inscription are capped with eagle's heads.
The piece was included in a series of bicentenial year exhibitions entitled "Where Liberty Dwells: Works of Art from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Tillou"at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, the Milwaukee Art Center, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica. It is published as "figure 73, Exotic Fish" in a catalog of the same name.
Label on the reverse is from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts exhibit.
While undated, the piece is obviously mid-19th century and cited as such in the catalog. Serving to reinforce the estimate is the existence of a grave for a "John J. Shove" in the Andersonville National Cemetary, Sumter County, Georgia. The cemetery was formerly known as Fort Sumter and served as a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Nearly 13,000 Union soldiers perished in the prison before it was liberated in May of 1865.
Period gilt frame. Archival back board.