Hawaiian Fish Analysis

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Study of Hawaiian Fish by Hubert Vos was created in 1898. It is an oil on canvas, seventeenth

century style Dutch still-life painting that depicts a elderly Hawaiian fisherman emptying a lauhala

basket filled with bountiful catch of fifty-seven varieties of fish native to Hawaiian waters, carefully

rendered from sketches of fish commonly displayed in the Honolulu Fish market, on a marble slab.1

I propose that this is work is a piece of art Hawaiian art because it portrays the ancient Hawaiian art of

fishing, displays staple native fish that were important to the diet of ancient Hawaiians along with the

ancient art of lauhala basket weaving . The reason why I chose this specific piece of art to write

about is because it caught
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4 Study of Hawaiian Fish also illustrates what

Hawaii was going through during this era. According to Representations: A Very Fishy Painting by

Gregory R. “In Study of Hawaiian Fish, Vos captured his subject - the elderly Hawaiian man, perhaps

the Hawaiian nation itself - in a most difficult moment of transition with the downfall of the Hawaiian

monarchy and annexation to the U.S. Along with the exploitation of Hawaii's resources portrayed with

the sheer amount of fish that can no longer fit inside the simple lauhala basket, contrasted by the

sustainable ancient Hawaiian fishing methods shown with the lauhala basket and fish net.” Hubert
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The painting also prominently shows a lauhala basket. Lauhala basket weaving is a ancient

Hawaiian craft of of weaving dried hala leaves to create floor mats, baskets, clothing, thatching, sails,

and mattresses. It is a art where each Hawaiian family has a distinct lauhala pattern and is mostly done

by women. The craft has been slowly dying out with the older generations not being able to pass down

their knowledge to younger generations, so its portrayal in the painting further conveys the message of

Hawaiian culture slowly fading away. 5

Study Of Hawaiian Fish by Hubert Vos is a important piece of Hawaiian art since the painting

conveys the cultural changes that Hawaii was going through during this era with western culture

bringing, to exploiting Hawaii's resources in contrast with the display ancient Hawaiian fishing

methods that were sustainable, along with Hawaii's dying art and
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