Fishing by Torch Light

Paul Kane1849-1856

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, Canada

Between June and December 1845, Paul Kane travelled through a number of the Great Lakes sketching landscapes and the peoples he encountered. Later, in his Toronto studio referring to his sketches for inspiration and detail he developed formal oil-on-canvas and oil-on-board paintings. Fishing by Torch Light depicts Menominee Indians on the Upper Fox River, Wisconsin, spearfishing using blazing jacklights to attract the fish.


  • Title: Fishing by Torch Light
  • Creator: Paul Kane
  • Creator Lifespan: 1810 - 1871
  • Creator Nationality: Irish/Canadian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Creator Birth Place: Mallow Parish, County Cork, Ireland
  • Date: 1849-1856
  • Physical Dimensions: w73.6 x h45.7 cm
  • Provenance: Gift of Sir Edmund Osler.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Royal Ontario Museum
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Medium Extent: Paul Kane (1810–1871) was a Canadian artist who in the mid-19th century set out from Toronto, Ontario, to sketch the western landscape and Native peoples. He undertook two major journeys—1845 and 1846–1848—during which time he travelled as far west as the Pacific Ocean. Kane returned to Toronto with more than 600 sketches and then set about developing formal studio paintings while referring to his sketches for inspiration and details. By 1856 most of his oil paintings were complete and in 1859 the narrative of his two journeys titled Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America was published in London by Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts. Paul Kane is recognized as one of the founding fathers of Canadian art who left an invaluable and remarkable record of landscapes and Native peoples in the Great Lakes, Plains, Columbia River, and North Pacific Coast regions.
  • Accession Number Extent: Paul Kane produced a cycle of 100 paintings that document his narrative, Wanderings of an Artist. By 1856 the cycle of paintings was complete and delivered to his patron, the Honourable George William Allan. The paintings were later acquired by Sir Edmund Osler and through his generous gift the Royal Ontario Museum has the complete cycle.
  • Accession Number: 912.1.10

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