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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Fish in Art

From the Dutch artist Jacob Gillig’s many still lifes to Renoir’s The Fish Monger and Manet’s Fishing, fish have inspired artists for thousands of years. They appear in the work of the old Dutch and Flemish masters as well as in the creations of French, English, and American painters. Yet the social and cultural significance of fishes’ representation in art has been overlooked. Christine E. Jackson remedies this deficiency in Fish in Art, an original perspective on the artistic legacy of fish and the fishing industry.

Surveying paintings from 2000 B.C. to the present, Jackson examines how representations of fish in art have evolved. She also delves into depictions of fish in kitchenware and tableware. Alongside her analysis of these artworks, she explores the social and historical issues that have engaged artists, including religious decrees on when to eat fish, the legacies of cod wars, and the rise and fall of particular ports. Widening her scope, she considers the ethics of catching fish and the ongoing industrial changes in the canning, ice, and salt industries, grounding her artistic study in the physical conditions of fishing and the fish trade, as well as the preparation, cooking, eating, and storage of these gilled creatures.
Packed with over two hundred images, Fish in Art will capture the interest of fishermen, natural historians, and art students alike.

248 pages | 180 color plates, 30 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 4/5 | © 2012

Art: Art Criticism

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 “The pictures are beautifully produced and the text, while erudite, is highly readable and so full of facts about fish and their depiction, it is a joy to read. The author makes us wonder at her subject and has taken the book to all readers, not only those interested in art. The price of the book is a bargain, for the price you receive a wonderful education into a fascinating subject.”

Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

“Although this attractively illustrated work focuses on two-dimensional representations of fish in European art from antiquity to the present, it also offers engaging discussions of the significance of fish/fishing in European political history, economies, religions, and diets.”


Table of Contents


1. Fish in the Sea
2. Fish on the Beach
3. Fish in the Market
4. Fish in the Kitchen
5. Fish on the Table
6. Fish in Still Waters
7. Fish in the River
8. Fish on the Riverbank

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

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