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Painting Title Fish
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Rysbrack, Pieter Andreas (Flemish painter, ca. 1684-1748)
Date Earliest 1730
Date Latest 1748
Signed yes

A collection of twenty-six different kinds of fish on a stone ledge against a dark background; the most prominent are a sturgeon, a conger eel and a lobster. YORAG : 455 was engraved by Gerard van der Gucht (e.g. British Museum 1859,0709.693) and published by John Boydell; the engraving bears a numbered key to the different types of fish depicted. The fish still-life developed as an autonomous genre at the beginning of the seventeenth century, out of kitchen and market scenes. Harvests from the sea were especially popular in the art of the Dutch and Flemish masters due to their close proximity to the sea and its commercial importance. The Latin phrase vis vitalis means 'life force', in which the word ‘vis' (Dutch and Flemish for fish) stands for force. Fish in Christian iconography is also the emblem of Christ and it has also been understood as a symbol of richness and wealth.

Pieter Andreas Rijsbrack (also known as Peter Rysbrack) was born in Paris as the son of the Antwerp painter Pieter Rijsbrack. The family moved to Antwerp by 1692; after 1722 Pieter Andreas Rijsbrack moved to London.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 455
Inscription front lr 'PA Rysbrack'
Subject still life (fish)
Measurements 101.6 x 127 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by J. B. Morrel, Esq. 1946.
Provenance Possibly P. A. Rysbrack sale, 21 May 1752, lot 9 or 10; Maxwell family (the Barons Herries); by descent to the 16th Duke of Norfolk; Everingham Park sale, 13 June 1946, lot 382, purchased by J. B. Morrel.
Publications Vertue - III. Note-books A.f.,B.4, and another', Walpole Society, XXII, 1934, p. 142; Catalogue Supplement 1974: Amendments and Additions to Catalogue Volumes I and II, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1975, pp. 35-36; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 329.

George Vertue recorded in 1748 that Rysbrack had 'published some prints of Fishes in 10 plates. which he had got Engravd & painted them extreamly well & natural'. These fish pieces were not mentioned in his reference to Rysbrack in 1730, so they were probably completed after that date.

John Bowes Morrell (1873-1963) was a member of York City Council, and twice Lord Mayor; as Chairman of the Art Gallery Committee he played a major role in the establishment of the Castle Museum. He campaigned for the foundation of the University of York. He gave his collection of various paintings, drawings and prints to the Art Gallery in York.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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