Big Fish Eat Little Fish

“The left panel shows a burbot, an increasingly rare river fish whose diet includes frogs. The centre panel holds a pike eating a brown trout, with lampreys below. Gollon used one of his his ‘close-up’ techniques to great effect in showing the trout’s anguish. In the right panel we see a perch perhaps about to take a fisherman’s bait, and below a zander. 
Titled by Chris Gollon after one of Breughel’s etchings, the triptych was purchased with the aid of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and now hangs in the River & Rowing Museum’s permanent collection alongside works by Raoul Dufy, Julian Trevelyan, John Piper and Justin Mortimer.

“The roots for this series can be traced back to 2001, to when Gollon had his studio on Platts Eyot island. As an artist working in such close proximity to the river Thames, his work came to the attention of Paul Mainds, Trustee & Chief Executive of the River & Rowing Museum, at Henley-on-Thames. Mainds invited Gollon to stage a solo exhibition of his work as one of several exhibitions including John Piper (1903-92), reflecting how the Thames had affected their paintings. Gollon painted the exquisite Big Fish Eat Little Fish triptych for the exhibition along with a number of smaller studies, all executed with a combination of striking realism and characteristically Gollonesque quirkiness.

The haunting atmospheric effects and naturalism of these works makes them particularly isolated within the artist’s oeuvre, and demonstrates the extraordinary scope of his abilities. Before he commenced painting the triptych Gollon immersed himself in the river not far from his studio to study the effects of light as it filters down through the water; a quite remarkable venture considering his paranoid fear of fish. The painting was a huge success and was purchased by the Museum with help from the Victoria & Albert Museum.”

Text by art historian Tamsin Pickeral from her book Chris Gollon Humanity in Art (Hyde & Hughes, 2010), endorsed by Bill Bryson OBE. Click on the image to view the work in greater detail and see the studies.


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Big Fish Eat Little Fish Triptych

36” x 46” (91 x 117cms) acrylic on canvas 2001. River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.


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Lampreys (study for Big Fish Eat Little Fish)

12” x 10” (30 x 25cms) acrylic on canvas 2001. Private collection.


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Bream (study for Big Fish Eat Little Fish)

12” x 10” (30 x 25cms) acrylic on canvas 2001. Private collection.