Big fish eat small by Peter Brueghel

Big fish eat small by Peter Brueghel

Returning to his homeland, Brueghel continued to work for Jerome Cock. He was a draftsman in his shop of prints, which was called “On the four winds.” According to drawings by Brueghel, several series of engravings were produced. The shop of Hieronymus Koka was very popular among the inhabitants of Antwerp and the guests of the city and brought significant income to the owner. Kok built a few houses and year after year he was rich, which can not be said about the artists who worked for him. Bruegel, not yet widely known, was forced to agree to the conditions of his master.

Among the engravings, performed by Bruegel for the shop “On the four winds,” was the famous leaf “Big Fish Eats Little.” In it, the artist first turned to the theme of popular proverbs and sayings. The sheet shows a huge fish with a ripped belly, from which other fish fall out. Everyone in the mouth has a smaller fish, and the one has a very small fish. And on the shore is a strange creature – something in between fish and man. A small fish sticks out of his mouth.

This drawing is not just an illustration of the famous Dutch proverb. Brueghel tries to convey to the viewer the idea that in the world of people, as well as in the animal world, the strong devour the weak. But even this strong one can become a prey even more powerful.

To warm the interest of buyers to engraving, Kok painted on it the name of another artist, long dead Jerome Bosch. Bruegel did not express indignation, because he, little known in those years, the master, depended on his employer. But in the drawing – the original, from which the engraving was made, his signature was preserved, thanks to which it became known who actually is the author of the engraving.

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