Amon Carter print details

The Fisherman

George Bellows (1882-1925)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    30 1/8 x 44 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed, l.r. on rock pier: Geo. Bellows


    on stretcher:

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

Although best known as a painter of gritty urban scenes, Bellows created more than 250 seascapes, most portraying the Atlantic Coast in Maine. But he turned his attention to the Pacific in 1917, when his family vacationed in the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, on the northern tip of Big Sur. There, he created this work, one of his last major ocean paintings.

Bellows was fascinated by the bright colors of the Pacific, and he relied on a jewellike palette of brilliant blues, greens, purples, pinks, and ochres to render water crashing against a rocky coastline. He considered the sea one of the most challenging subjects to paint, and the lone angler maneuvering his line may symbolize the struggle of the artist as he grappled with his chosen subject.

—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by George Bellows


  • Gaining fame for his depictions of boxing matches and gritty New York City scenes, George Bellows was also known for another popular subject in his works—seascapes. This large, horizontally-oriented painting housed in a gold frame is one of his many examples.

    Here Bellows depicts a lone, slender White fisherman standing on a rocky cropping that juts out into a choppy sea under a gray, cloud-covered sky. The man stands with his back to the viewer slightly left of center. He has a firm stance, separating his feet and planting his right foot on a rock that is a little bit higher than where his left foot stands. His left shoulder is dropped and his arm reaches toward the right, across his body; his left hand and wrist is visible on the right side of his body. His right arm extends up and out to the right. The fisherman’s right hand grips the middle of a bamboo fishing pole, while his left hand grips the bottom of it. The pole points to the top right edge of the canvas, and the tip of it slightly bends down, suggesting he’s caught something on his line, that is almost invisibly painted. The man’s head looks slightly to the right, only the back of his head and right ear is visible; his face cannot be seen. He wears a dark bucket hat with hair peeking out of the bottom on his neck, a light blue long-sleeved shirt, a reddish-tan vest, brown pants, and black, rubber waders that start under his buttocks.

    The jetty the man stands on is in the foreground. It starts on the bottom right corner, spans across most of the bottom of the painting, and slants upward toward the left corner. It’s made of many large different brown, round, and smooth rocks. There are highlights on brighter spots on some of the rounded edges of the rocks and on the back of the man, indicating that the sun is shining from the left.

    Crashing onto the rocks are vibrant blue and neon green waves, some of them capped with white froth. Large waves crest near the fisherman’s right foot and off of a tall rock on the left edge of the painting. The brush strokes and lapping waves suggest rough waters. The water stretches out to the horizon line.

    Another smaller rock formation appears in the middle ground of the painting, rising out of the water. A larger one or possible coastline in the distance sits in the top third of the painting along the horizon line on the right. Three white lines resembling seagulls float not far above the horizon line on the left. The smoky, gray sky, with muted blues peeking through, gives the scene a heavy feel.

Educator Resources
  • What does balance, or imbalance, contribute to a work of art?

    How is the archetypal theme of human versus nature depicted in works of art?

    What symbolic roles has the sea played in the artistic traditions of various groups and cultures?

    How have attitudes about leisure and its place in society changed or stayed the same over time?

  • Grades 1–5

    Ask students to imagine the sensory experience of this moment: how does the rock feel under their shoes? What sounds do they hear? What smells are present? Ask students to adopt the pose of the fisherman: What might be his next motion?

    Grades 6–12

    Ask students to consider a time in their own life when they struggled with something (athletic, academic, or personal). How did they find the balance to succeed or overcome it? Students will then create/design a way to show the balance between the difficulty of that situation and the growth that resulted from it.

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