Dine & Wine

Fish Paintings for Christmas Eve Dinner

Magda Michalska 23 December 2023 min Read

In many cultures, Christmas Eve dinner does not include any meat (excluding seafood) or alcohol because one should keep a vigil fasting and expect the feasting of the Christmas Day. So in anticipation of a lot of food that many of you will experience on the Christmas Eve (me included!), let’s cherish views of some simple fish paintings:

Georges Braque, Bottle and Fish, 1941, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris, France, fish paintings
Georges Braque, Bottle and Fish, 1941, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris, France.

In 1914, Braque enlisted with the French Army, but in 1915, he was severely injured in his head and suffered temporary blindness. Treatment required trepanation and, after the operation, Braque needed a long period of convalescence. After 1916, when he returned to painting, he began developing a new style characterized by brilliant color, textured surfaces, and the reappearance of the human figure. When he painted still lifes, he mostly studied the textures and structures of various objects.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Big fishes eat small fishes, 1556, Albertina, Vienna, Austria, fish paintings
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Big Fishes Eat Small Fishes, 1556, Albertina, Vienna, Austria.

This drawing portrays a famous ancient Latin proverb that relates to how the powerful consistently prey on the weak in this cruel world. In the prints that followed this work, a Flemish inscription is added below the man gesturing to his son: “Look son, I have long known that the big fish eat the small.”

Raphael, The Madonna of the Fish (The Madonna with the Archangel Gabriel and St. Jerome), c.1513, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain, fish paintings
Raphael, The Madonna of the Fish, c. 1513, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Archangel Raphael brings little Tobias to Mother Mary and baby Jesus. The boy holds a fish with which he later will cure his father’s blindness and which will give this painting, commissioned by Geronimo del Doce for the Chapel of Saint Rosalie at the Monastery of San Domenico in Naples, a customary name. On the right, we see Saint Jerome who is dressed as a Cardinal. He reads the Bible, the Vulgate, which he translated into Latin.

Gustav Klimt, Fishblood, 1898, destroyed, fish paintings
Gustav Klimt, Fishblood, 1898, private collection. WikiArt.

This print was executed during the first years of the Viennese Secession, yet it already documents Klimt‘s fascination with aqueous creatures and the world of women whose hair creates sinuous lines which become one with the water currents.

Filippo De Pisis (Filippo Tibertelli), The Sacred Fish, 1924, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, fish paintings
Filippo De Pisis (Filippo Tibertelli), The Sacred Fish, 1925, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

Objects like a glass with the four-leaf clover, a Chinese vase, or a folded sheet of paper were characteristic of De Pisis’ paintings. In this work, however, apart from his favorite objects, we see fish, which references Giorgio de Chirico’s painting The Sacred Fish.

Marc Chagall, Untitled (Flying Fish),1966, Private Collection, fish paintings
Marc Chagall, Untitled (Flying Fish), 1966, private collection. WikiArt.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve, whether you eat fish or not!

Get your daily dose of art

Click and follow us on Google News to stay updated all the time


Ernest Higgins Rigg, The Potato Pickers, undated, Bradford Museums, UK. ArtUK. Dine & Wine

The Potato in Fine Art

Do you prefer your potatoes in a landscape or in a still life or in a stew? Come with me on a tour of the humble potato in art.

Candy Bedworth 2 March 2023

Dine & Wine

Art History Inspired Birthday Cakes

Birthday cakes are an established tradition for many. Baking in itself is an art – a delicious one. So why have a cake that is only delicious? Make...

Vithória Konzen Dill 13 July 2023

Dine & Wine

Paris Bistros: Iconic Places and Space for Art

Is there something more iconic for Paris than its bistros (after the Eiffel Tower, of course)? Let’s have a closer look at the artistic...

Camilla de Laurentis 9 December 2023

Dine & Wine

The Best Autumn Foods in Still Life Paintings

I love everything about autumn – the cool, crisp air, the warm sweaters, the sense that the holiday season will soon arrive. But most of all, I...

Alexandra Kiely 16 October 2023