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Polycrates and the Fisherman

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.


c. 1664


Salvator Rosa
Italian, 1615–1673

About this artwork

Salvator Rosa developed a kind of dramatic landscape in which nature is presented as wild, dangerous, and filled with striking effects of light, broken trees, jagged cliffs, and dark grottoes. A native of Naples, Rosa settled in Rome in 1649, producing dramatic works that are regarded as counter-parts to the calm, classical landscapes of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. Rosa’s dark style is well suited to the subject of this pair of paintings; they recount an episode from the Greco-Persian Wars as told by the ancient Green historian Herodotus. The ruler of the island of Samos, Polycrates, had been blessed with remarkable good fortune. In an effort to ward off a reversal of fortune, he cast a precious ring into the sea, but it was returned to him, swallowed by a fish. His good fortune came to an end, however, when he was entrapped by Oroetus of Sardis and put to death.

On View

Painting and Sculpture of Europe, Gallery 209


Salvator Rosa


Polycrates and the Fisherman






Oil on canvas


Inscribed at lower right: SR (in ligature)


28 1/2 × 38 13/16 in. (73 × 98.6 cm)

Credit Line

Wentworth Greene Field Memorial Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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