A Cat Stealing Fish

Artist: Giuseppe Recco (Italian, Neapolitan, 1634–1695)

Date: late 1660s

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 38 x 50 1/2 in. (96.5 x 128.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, 1871

Accession Number: 71.17


This animated scene shows a cat caught in the act of devouring an octopus. The painting, dating from the high point of Recco’s career, shows the painter’s exceptional ability to depict a dazzling range of surfaces and materials, from iridescent fish scales, slimy mollusks, and other crustaceans, to hammered copper. Recco, who painted the seaweed into the letters of his initials (G R), was certainly aware of Flemish and Spanish still-life paintings which were popular and much admired in Naples in the seventeenth century.