Saturday, November 5, 2011

Big Fish and Little Fish ... Over Time

From the daily comic: Non-Sequitor by Wiley Miller (b. April 15, 1951, Burbank, CA) distributed on November 5, 2011:

99%: 1% = Democracy and Natural Selection

"OK, so it's 99 t0 1. So we win, right?"

Below: Big Fish Eat Little Fish, a version from 1557
Pieter Bruegel The Elder
(birth date not clear; active by 1551, died 1569. Netherlandish)

The vernacular form of the ancient Latin proverb, which appears in minuscule lettering just below the action relates to the theme of a senseless world in which the powerful instinctively and consistently prey on the weak.

The Heilbrunn Time Line of Art History informs us that

Bruegel's brilliant visualization of the proverb was first conceived as a drawing (Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina) that is signed by the artist and dated 1556. This engraving by Pieter van der Heyden, however, is signed in the lower left corner with the name Hieronymus Bosch, who had died in 1516. The print's publisher, Hieronymus Cock, was probably responsible for replacing Bruegel's name with that of the more famous and salable Bosch, who had, not coincidentally, a major influence on Bruegel.

Proverbs appear in other literary forms (Achbe's, Things Fall Apart, 1958, Gogol's Dead Souls, 1842, Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club, 1989, and hundreds of folk tales, world-wide) as well as paintings of the sixteenth century. Below is Bruegel's Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559.

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