Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rented Cod Fish

In the current issue of Arts and Antiques magazine, D. Frederick Baker relates the following curious anecdote about William Merritt Chase.

"In 1904, when he held his summer classes in London, he happened upon a fishmonger from whom he rented a cod fish, which he memorialized on canvas. Two hours later he returned the cod, still fresh enough to be sold.

"An apocryphal story? Perhaps, but likely a great sales pitch to the Corcoran Gallery of Art who purchased the painting the following year."

Mr. Baker's full article at Arts and Antiques


Mark Heng said...

That's an amazing show of technique if indeed it was painted in just two hours! Would I be right in thinking most academically trained painters of the time would be able do something similar?

Blake said...

It's especially amazing since in two hours he had time to go home, set the still life up, paint it, and travel back to the fish monger. Rad.

Unknown said...

While he may have been capable of painting this in merely 2 hrs, it seems highly unlikely that the fish would have been ok to sell afterwards without being on ice. While summers in London are certainly cooler than summers in FL, they are still not so cool as to keep a fish from going bad in such an amount of time. I know that the chef where I work wouldn't serve a fish that had been left out for so long. Sounds pretty far fetched, but rather fun nonetheless. I love stories like these. It's fun to hypothesize about them!

Rafferty said...

I think it's possible and I've done it with an octopus. The fish mongers could have been next door or downstairs from the studio, it's gutted and cleaned as you can see by the painting and he may have just painted the main fish and finished the rest of the still life in his own time.
Great blog, beautiful painting.

Unknown said...

In those ages, it was still acceptable for fish to be eaten after 2 hours in a hot atelier... ;-).