There are 2 other images of this object. This object has no known copyright, and as such we offer a high-resolution image of it. See our image rights statement.


See more objects with the tag fish, factory, weavers, craftsmen, nature, sea life, parrots, crustaceans, still life, eel, lobster.

See more objects with the color darkgrey or see all the colors for this object.

Object Timeline



  • We acquired this object.




  • You found it!

Drawing, Still-life with Fish and Parrot, 1740

This is a Drawing. It is dated 1740 and we acquired it in 1938. Its medium is black, white chalk on blue laid paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

An artful arrangement of sea life is composed against ruins. Lobster, fish and eel appear wet and teeming, as though freshly hauled from the sea. Perched above, a live parrot provides a juxtaposition to the nautical still life below. The tension between life and death was a favored pictorial trope of Jean-Baptiste Oudry, who would enliven his compositions with contrasting textures of feather, shells and fur. White chalk is used to great effect, suggesting the shimmer of light against fish scales.

Oudry made studies of animals directly from nature, empiricism being central to his artistic philosophy; from 1719-1721 he traveled to coastal Dieppe specifically for the purpose of observing marine life. Accurate representations of natural specimens were eagerly collected by the nobility and cultural elite of the eighteenth century, satisfying bourgeoning interest in the field of natural history.

From a young age, Oudry had a precocious love of drawing and he grew to be a prolific draughtsman, producing thousands of pictures in his lifetime. Numerous drawings were intended as finished works of art, while many were produced as preparatory studies for paintings or tapestries. The artist regularly made copies of his own drawings for sale, in order to retain the original for his private collection. The Cooper-Hewitt’s drawing, dating to 1740, is likely a carefully executed replica of a work exhibited in the Salon of 1725.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Original Copy.

It is credited Museum purchase from Friends of the Museum Fund.

Our curators have highlighted 4 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Its dimensions are

30.6 x 41.6cm (12 1/16 x 16 3/8in.) Mat: 40.6 x 55.9 cm (16 x 22 in.) Frame: 44.8 x 60.3 x 2.5 cm (17 5/8 in. x 23 3/4 in. x 1 in.)

It has the following markings

Stamps: lower left: E. and J. de Goncourt (Lugt 1089); lower right corner: A. Beurdeley (Lugt 421).

It is inscribed

Inscribed in pen and brown ink, lower right: Oudry 1740

Cite this object as

Drawing, Still-life with Fish and Parrot, 1740; Previously owned by Sarah Cooper Hewitt (American, 1859–1930); France; black, white chalk on blue laid paper; 30.6 x 41.6cm (12 1/16 x 16 3/8in.) Mat: 40.6 x 55.9 cm (16 x 22 in.) Frame: 44.8 x 60.3 x 2.5 cm (17 5/8 in. x 23 3/4 in. x 1 in.); Museum purchase from Friends of the Museum Fund; 1938-66-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.

This object may be subject to Copyright or other restrictions.

You are welcome to make fair use of this image under U.S. Copyright law and in compliance with our terms of use. Please note that you are responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Still-life with Fish and Parrot, 1740 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=16 December 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>