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Pieter van der Heyden (1538-72), Big Fish Eat Little Fish
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Engraver Pieter van der Heyden produced more than 150 prints for the publisher Hieronymus Cock, reproducing the designs of Bosch, Bruegel and other artists. In the foreground of this engraving, a child is instructed by its father: 'See the big fish eat the little fish'. He points to the whale-sized fish stranded on the shore, disgorging smaller fish which in turn have swallowed even smaller ones. The text below the frame states, 'the rich oppress you with their power'.

The inscription 'Hieronijmus Bos inventor', on the lower left, may be misleading. Hieronymus Bosch (about 1450-1516) was famous for his composite creatures, like the fish with legs depicted here above his name, or the fish flying in the sky. However, this composition is certainly by Bruegel the Elder (1515-69), since the preparatory drawing survives with his signature and the date 1556, although it may depend on a lost prototype by Bosch.

Pieter van der Heyden (1538-72), Big Fish Eat Little Fish


From Flanders, dated AD 1557
Ht 23 сm.



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