Reaktion Books, 2012. 248 pages, Small quarto, dustwrapper, colour and black and white illustrations.
Fish have inspired artists for thousands of years. They are present in the work of many Dutch and Flemish old masters, as well as French, English and American painters. Yet until now the social and cultural significance of fishes’ representation in art has been overlooked. In this volume, Christine E. Jackson surveys a large number of paintings from 2000BC to the present day, examining the evolution of fish representation, as well as its preparation, cooking, eating and storage, and fish-specific kitchen- and tableware. Jackson also explores a diverse range of 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. Considering elements such as the ethics of catching fish alongside wider industrial changes in the canning, ice, and salt industries, This book is attentive to the relative importance of species to different nations. Offering a study of fish in art that is grounded in the physical conditions of fishing and the fish trade, the book will be of interest to fishermen, natural historians and art students alike. This book provides an original and unique perspective on the artistic legacy of fish and the fishing industry.