In both life and art, fish and the ocean have played a significant part in human society and are symbols that represent life itself. As a result, many famous painters were enamored by the sea creatures for their surface beauty and deeper symbolic meaning.

In the world of art and painting, both the fish and the ocean have been depicted many times over and featured as popular themes by painters. For certain painters, in particular, this obsession with fish and the ocean would come to define their careers as artists.

The ocean as a symbol is said to represent the power and will of God, and while fish also represent God’s will, like, in essence, everything does, in art, fish can also represent much subtler themes. Themes include the fluctuation of emotions, the unconscious mind, and the higher self, to name just a few.

A Good Pool, Saguenay River by Winslow Homer

Our first great fish artist is regarded by many to be the most delicate marine artist of them all and is arguably the most prominent American painter of the entire 19th century. American Realist painter Winslow Homer adored the sea. To him, it was the ultimate setting for depicting high drama and epic adventures.

Winslow dedicated most of his career to painting the sea and its scaly inhabitants. This personal love of everything aquatic wholeheartedly shines through in Winslow’s paintings. His style encompassed a sense of adventures like a gripping novel or enthralling movie

In his painting, A Good Pool, Saguenay River, Homer takes things to another level. His standard troupes of high realism and captivating weather patterns are present; however, all this is nothing compared to the gigantic fish hooked on the fishermen’s line. It leaps toward the helpless little boat as if to crush it and embodies a sense of danger and dread depicted in many of Winslow’s maritime artworks.

Rainbow Trout by Pierre Auguste Renoir

For French Impressionist painter Pierre Renoir and many other Impressionist artists, the true essence of any good Impressionist painting is the artist’s ability to turn a relatively ordinary and uneventful scene into something truly alive and filled with underlying emotion that leaves a strong impression on the viewer.

Renoir was unquestionably one of the greats regarding this underappreciated aspect of Impressionism. Practically all of his paintings are awash with a slew of feelings, emotions, passion, and most importantly, a sense of aliveness that previous artistic movements lacked.

His still-life painting quaintly titled Rainbow Trout is no exception. Although, on the surface, it’s a simple painting of three fish swimming amongst the reeds of the riverbed, somehow, Renoir managed to perfectly capture the sense of movement that parallels the scene’s reality. Quite an impressive achievement indeed.

Bowl of Goldfish by Frederick Childe Hassam

Another fantastic fish artist captivated and inspired by the majestic glory of the sea was American Impressionist painter Frederick Childe Hassam. Hassam was known for his colorfully detailed renderings of the changing seasons in coastal and urban environments.

Bowl of Goldfish is a beautifully colorful experience and stands out from other colorful Hassam paintings for its sheer vibrancy and utterly captivating colorfulness. This achievement of color is a feat of artistic brilliance that any artist would be proud of.

In the painting, the feeling of summer fills the air as a woman stands solemnly by an open window while watching the goldfish bowl sitting atop the table. The fish and leaf-filled trees outside the window represent the newly born and thriving life cycle.

The Submerged Buddha, c.1910 by Paul Serusier

The Submerged Buddha is a beautiful miniature Post-Impressionist painting from Paris-born painter Paul Serusier. Serusier is known for his exquisite use of color and abstract shape and is credited with being one of the pioneers of the famous abstract art movement.

Serusier’s quirky style and surreal, dreamlike extrapolations of otherwise uninteresting events garnered him a reputation as one of the leading artistic minds in France at the time. His artwork mirrors and rivals the other great French painters of the era, such as Gauguin and Cezanne.

The Submerged Buddha is one of Serusier’s most exciting and unique paintings. Simple yet beautiful, it captures the abstract sense of loneliness and darkness often associated with the sea. Elements of Eastern artistic stylings such as Zen art and Japonism are also present in the painting and its composition.

Adirondack Catch by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer’s fish paintings are so good that they had to be mentioned on the list more than once. While other fish artists and artworks focused more on the symbolism of life associated with fish, Homer’s paintings, on the other hand, convey a sense of realistic unease that anyone involved with the sea can understand and comprehend.

Winslow’s paintings are often brimming with drama and suspense. However, this Adirondack Catch piece has a sense of tranquility and contentment. In the painting, you can see that a host of fish has been caught. And they hang from a tree drying out in the sun.

A sense of peace emanates from the painting due to the warm color palette and stillness of the fish. While Homer may be known for his more dramatic paintings, some of which also contain Adirondack, if you are looking for a peaceful composition to appreciate, then this might be the perfect painting for you.


We cannot deny the importance of fish to human life and our dependence on beautiful creatures. So many artists have tried to honor this vital bond with their artwork. These paintings are just a few examples of these amazing fish artists. There are hundreds more fabulous fish paintings out there just waiting for you to discover. Read more interesting articles on Technos Daily.

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