An exquisite collection of 64 original watercolor drawings and artworks by Karl Walton Kenyon of fish, marine and bird wildlife, created in the Asia Pacific during wartime deployment, circa 1941-1966. Many are draw to scale from life examples caught by hand. A large number of examples are signed with notes related to their locality, scale, species (if known), and often including the date and other related remarks i.e. "Espiritu Santo, tidepool, 5x life size, painted from life, June 5 1944 (signed)" or "(signed) May 24, 1944 near Guadalcanal, flew aboard ship" (for a flying fish drawing). Also includes a handful of works created in the 1960s, plus two sketchbook journals with dozens of sketches (1940s), and three notebooks containing hundreds of family photographs, from the artist's childhood through his time in the war.
Karl Walton Kenyon (1918-2007) was born on in La Jolla, California in 1918. He attended Pomona College and received his master's degree from Cornell in 1941. He served as a naval aviator on an escort aircraft carrier in the Pacific during WWII, and was shot down in the Philippines and rescued at sea. He was discharged with Honors as a Lt. Commander. Kenyon joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Seattle around 1949 and worked there into the 1970s, becoming a noted expert on the sea otter, authoring several books and articles. He was also one of the first conservationists to document the ingestion of plastic by seabirds, and in 1993 received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Seabird Group. His work in conservation continued well after his retirement, focusing on the protection of sea mammals. He died on March 27, 2007.
Kenyon was a friend and colleague of other, sometimes prominent, wildlife artists and they apparently shared or perhaps traded works. Some artworks of Kenyon's were in the collection of the biologist and wildlife artist Robert Mengel that were donated to the Library at the Academy of Natural Sciences. One work in this archive is by George Bennett (born in California), who for the later years of his life lived in both Tonga and Figi, and created artworks that were featured on the stamps of both countries. Some of Kenyon's papers related to his field work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are housed with the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Works sizes vary from approx. 5.5" x 7" to 12" x 19", with many works in the 10" x 13" range. Twelve works are fish prints, some with watercolor embellishments. All works have now been placed in individual protective sleeves and some held with photo corners and stiff backing, all stored in an archival box. Additional shipping and insurance requirements may apply.
An amazing collection of a large body of work by this underappreciated, and largely unknown, wildlife artist known more for his professional conservationist work. Item #1251.
Condition: Very Good+ to Near Fine, some age toning to paper and some bands of toning around edges from previous matting; some works have mounting tape still affixed to verso; some occasional areas of foxing.