Like his uncle Pieter Aertsen, Joachim Beuckelaer is regarded as a founder of still life painting. This type of work was greatly sought after by the growing middle classes around 1550. Searching for hidden meanings was a popular pastime in those days as well. What we see is an apparently innocent everyday market scene. But like many paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, it involves a deeper meaning and suggestive metaphors. The shapes of the salmon steaks and oysters are reminiscent of female genitals. And what is to be made of the raised middle finger with which the fishmonger is holding up the salmon? The basket held by the woman, who is looking around dreamily, is a well-known reference to her lap. This combination of a seemingly innocent scene and a saucy meaning must have really appealed to the buyers of the time. Beuckelaar apparently hit the bull’s eye with this type of vulgar visual joke, as his paintings were still being copied after his death. This version in the Bonnefantenmuseum’s collection was created more than twenty years after the master’s demise.


  • Title: Fish Market
  • Creator: Follower of Joachim Beuckelaer
  • Date: around 1595
  • Location Created: Antwerp
  • Physical Dimensions: 150 x 200 x 15,5 cm
  • Provenance: Loan Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. © Peter Cox/Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht
  • Medium: oil on panel

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps