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The Fish Bucket

Denise M. Goodman, MD, MS
JAMA. 2013;309(21):2190. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1599.
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The Fish Bucket is a homely title for a radiant image of a working fisherman along the New England shore. Eyes averted and face indistinct, he could represent the worker as everyman, focused on the task at hand. The painting is suffused with light and motion. The fish are stylized, reduced to essential shapes and reflecting light from their scales. The whitecaps of the sea churn behind, and clouds scuttle across the sky. The artist uses the framework of the supporting structure for the barrel as a frame within a frame, drawing the eye forward to the focal point of the fish, which spill outward toward the viewer, nearly leaving the plane of the painting in their abundance. The whole creates an immediacy capturing a precise moment in time. The sun rises high in the sky, reflected in the red of the fisherman's ear. The marine subject matter evokes the work of Winslow Homer, while the abstraction of form and play of light point to a more modern sensibility befitting a work created in 1924.

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Gifford Beal (1879-1956), The Fish Bucket, 1924, American. Oil on canvas. 61.3 × 61.3 cm. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection (http://www.phillipscollection.org/index.aspx), Washington, DC; acquired 1925.



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