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A spotlight on outstanding women artists and their works in the Royal Collection

Sarah Bowdich (1791-1856)

The Fresh-water fishes of Great Britain 1828

RCIN 1057038

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Sarah Bowdich is best known for her book, published in 1828, on the freshwater fish of Great Britain. Following the death of her husband in 1824, she dedicated her life to the study of natural history. In preparing this book, Bowdich drew and then hand-painted each of the 48 individual plates – in her words, 'from the living fish immediately [after] it came from the water it inhabited' – for every one of the 50 copies produced. This allowed the fish to be depicted with a previously unknown degree of accuracy, complete with the sheen of the scales and translucency of the fins. Bowdich’s later natural history publications were placed on the Privy Council list of class books for national education and used in schools around the country.