Still Life of Fish and Cat after 1620

Clara Peeters, Still Life of Fish and Cat, after 1620.; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Clara Peeters’s considerable skill at rendering naturalistic texture and detail is on full display in Still Life of Fish and Cat. Typically called a “breakfast piece,” this type of still life realistically depicts household abundance, with no subtle moral or subtext.

The reddish ceramic colander holds several types of fish, including an eel. Its long, slender body forms a prominent loop that adds visual interest to the upper left of this still life. Peeters increased the illusion of space within the picture by including several reflections in the metal dish.

The varied textures of slippery fish scales, thickly glazed clay, cat's fur, rough oyster shells, and a gleaming pewter dish enhance the sensory qualities of the painting. The cat, with its ears pointed back, stands alert to any potential interloper as it protects its fishy fortune.