Richard Ellis

AFC Conservation Artist of the Month for August, 2012

Richard Ellis is one of America's leading marine conservationists, and is generally recognized as the foremost painter of marine natural history subjects in the world. His paintings of whales have appeared in Audubon, National Wildlife, Australian Geographic, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and numerous other national and interna­tional publications. His shark paintings have been featured in Sports Afield, Audubon, Sport Diver, Nautical Quarterly, Reader's Digest, and of course his own Book of Sharks, now in its seventh printing, and called the most popular book on sharks ever written. He has been asked to advise on many museum installations, and in 1978, he completed a 35-foot long whale mural for the Denver Museum of Natural History. His paintings have been exhibited at one-man and group shows from coast to coast. One hundred and six of his paintings were selected by the Smithsonian Institution to form a traveling exhibit of the marine mammals of the world, and these paintings are now in the permanent collec­tion of Whaleworld, a museum in Albany, Western Australia. In 2005, in conjunction with the publication in Italian of his Encyclopedia of the Sea, Richard Ellis was given a one-man show of his drawings at the Museo del Mare in Genoa.

In addition to painting, Mr. Ellis is the author of more than eighty magazine articles, which have appeared in such journals as Geo, Audubon, Natural History, Animal Kingdom, Curator, Smithsonian, Science Digest, and National Geographic. He has been the subject of cover stories in American Artist, Ocean Realm, Wildlife Conservation,Yale's Discovery magazine, and his alumni magazine, the Pennsylvania Gazette. He has appeared in numerous television specials, and has written screenplays on whales for PBS.

His research has taken him to Quebec, Baja California, Newfoundland, Hawaii, Bermuda, Nantucket, South Georgia, the Azores, Alaska, Patagonia, Japan, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, the Galapagos, the Falklands, the Antarctic, the Aleutians, Kamchatka, Spitsbergen and the North Pole. Mr. Ellis is a special adviser to the American Cetacean Society, a member of the Explorers Club, and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History.

From 1980 to 1990, he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission. Upon the 1980 publication of "The Book of Whales," he embarked on a national lecture tour, which took him from Boston to Hawaii. "Dolphins and Porpoises," the second volume of his comprehensive work on the cetaceans of the world, was published to universal critical acclaim in 1982. As of September 1986, he completed a 100-foot-long mural of Moby Dick for the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, and in April of 1987, his illustrations of the seals and sea lions of the world were published by the National Geographic.

In 1991, he published "Great White Shark," co-authored by John McCosker, (Stanford University Press), and Men and Whales, published by Knopf. In 1993, he wrote and illustrated "Physty," his first children's book, the story of the successful rescue of a baby sperm whale. "Monsters of the Sea" was published in the fall of 1994, and "Deep Atlantic" appeared in 1996. "Imagining Atlantis" was published in July, 1998, with front page reviews in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times book reviews, and "The Search for the Giant Squid" appeared in October, 1998. A second mural for New Bedford, blue whale and dolphins, was installed in September, 2000. His "Encyclopedia of the Sea" was published by Knopf in October, 2000, and in 2001 Viking published "Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea." In March, 2003, Island Press published "The Empty Ocean," the sad story of the depletion of the world's marine resources, including fishes, sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea otters, sea cows, and coral reefs. He then published "Sea Dragons: Predators of Prehistoric Oceans" (University Press of Kansas), a study of the extinct marine reptiles; and in the fall of 2004, HarperCollins published "No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species."

In 2005, he published "Tiger Bone and Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine,"
and then "Singing Whales and Flying Squid: The Discovery of Marine Life." In 2006, he was given a one-man show at the Museo de la Mare, in Genoa, Italy, in conjunction with the publication of his "Encyclopedia of the Sea" in Italian. In addition to Italian, his books have been translated into Spanish, German, Polish, and Korean. In 2008, Knopf published "Tuna: A Love Story," about the bluefin tuna, one of the world's most spectacular fishes, now being eaten out of existence by the Japanese sushi market. Following that, Harry Abrams published "Big Fish," a book of his paintings, which was followed by a book about global warming and the demise of the polar bear: "On Thin Ice. (Knopf.) In the spring of 2011, the University Press of Kansas published "The Great Sperm Whale," the definitive work on the star of Moby-Dick, and one of the most fascinating animals on Earth.

Richard Ellis is now serving as Curator of the exhibition "SHARK!" at the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Art Museum. In addition to his own paintings, the show will feature the work of Winslow Homer, John Singleton Copley, Ray Troll, Charles R. Knight, Guy Harvey, Stanley Meltzoff, Damien Hirst; and photographers David Doubilet, Chris Fallows, Doug Seifert, Daniel Botelho, Ron and Valerie Taylor, and Rodney Fox. There will be a live shark tank, movies, videos, and explanatory labels. Sculpture will be represented by works in stainless steel, tin, bronze, automobile hubcaps, rubber tires, and a 50-foot-long Megalodon balloon. The show opened in May, 2012, and will run for six months.

Learn more about Richard Ellis.

Previous Conservation Artists of the Month

(August, 2018)
(July, 2018)
(June, 2018)
(May, 2018)
(April, 2018)
(March, 2018)
(February, 2018)
(January, 2018)
(December, 2017)
(November, 2017)
(October, 2017)
(September, 2017)
(August, 2017)
(July, 2017)
(June, 2017)
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