Fish tales: 10 fantastic works of art depicting fish

by | Oct 11, 2021 | Maritime Art, Culture and History

Can the world do without fish? In 2018 humans consumed a total of 156.4 million tonnes (live weight) of fish, according to The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The following is a tribute to God-given, life-sustaining fish from various artists and from the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.

The Fish

by William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

Although you hide in the ebb and flow
Of the pale tide when the moon has set,
The people of coming days will know
About the casting out of my net,
And how you have leaped times out of mind
Over the little silver cords,
And think that you were hard and unkind,
And blame you with many bitter words.

“BLUE DOG” Shark
Carved and painted wood sculpture, c. 1922–1928
John Orne Johnson Frost ( American, 1852–1928)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Goldfish Candy
Amezaiku (Japanese candy craft artistry), 2015
Hiroaki Kikuchi via Wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) licence

The Goldfish
Oil and watercolour on paper, 1925
Paul Klee (Swiss-born German, 1879–1940)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Leaping Trout
Watercolour over graphite, 1889
Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Pike, Lake St. John (Ouananiche Fishing)
Watercolour over graphite, 1897
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums

Head of a Salmon
Woodblock print, c. 1820
Totoya Hokkei (Japanese, 1780–1850)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ink and colour on silk, no date
Ohara Koson (Japanese, 1877–1945)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Two carp
Colour woodcut, 1831
Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

MIniature glass sculpure, France, 19th century
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Set of Three Fish in Original Box
Agate, holly, silk velvet, c. 1890
House of Fabergé (Russian, 1842–1918)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

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