John Hamilton Mortimer
Fish Devouring Shell Food date not known

Artwork details

Fish Devouring Shell Food
Date Date not known
Medium Watercolour and ink on paper
Dimensions Support: 280 x 424 mm
Acquisition Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

The fish in this drawing seem
to be half-human and half-monster.
Mortimer often drew such imaginative
sea-monsters during the 1770s.


The subject may have been taken
from an emblem devised by the Italian author Andrea Alciati, which shows
a dolphin washed up on a rocky shore. Alciati uses the image to compare
the ferocious nature of the sea
with human passions, which when indulged lead to self-destruction
- here represented by the fish who
gorge themselves on shell food.

September 2004

About this artwork