At the fish scale Volendam 1909

For picture description see below.

JQAW# G_1909_010
Oil on canvas 158 x 200 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 909
Unknown private collection (Austria?)

A group of 7 fishermen surrounds a scale into which a fisherman, dressed in an apron and a fisherman's hat, is emptying a basket of fish. In the center, an old fisherman, dressed all in black with a black visor cap, notes the weight with a pencil in a small notebook. To his side, a fisherman wearing a black fur cap, a pipe in his mouth, with his right arm resting on the scribe's shoulder. To the left of him are three fishermen dressed in visor caps and fishing hats, respectively, watching the process. The fisherman in the left foreground is wearing an earring. In the right middle ground of the picture a fisherman wearing a black jacket and a visor cap has a pipe in his mouth. The scene takes place in an interior, which is represented in the background on the left by a wooden wall paneling and in the right by a wall with Delft tiles, on which the sunlight coming from the left is reflected.

This genre painting is also referred to in literature as "Fish Market in Volendam" or, in the Künstlerhaus Archive Vienna incorrectly as Fish Market in Venice. It provides an apt milieu study from the fishing village of Volendam, north of Amsterdam, where Adams spent numerous summers. The painting is masterfully designed: the calm, attentive tenseness of the fishermen; the pictorial composition of the groups of figures, carefully designed along pictorial diagonals and differently illuminated by the oblique sunlight, either emphasizing them or receding them into darkness; and the color scheme, dominated by dark tones of black, brown as well as dark red, are brought together in a successful composition reminiscent of old Dutch masters.

The painting was first exhibited in 1910 at the Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 54 1910/11 #1178), but remained unsold. In 1911 the painting was exhibited at the art exhibition celebrating the opening of the new art museum on the occasion of the 100 year celebration of the Republic of Chile in Santiago de Chile and then again at the Vienna Künstlerhaus (EL 56 1911/12 #3334), where it was again not sold despite the trust price being reduced from 10,000 to 8,000 crowns. The painting remained in the possession of the artist and in his estate. From his estate it was donated by Countess Walderdorff (the artist's daughter) to the Vienna Künstlerhaus, where it remained until 1992. In a financial emergency, the painting, together with all other Adams works of the Künstlerhaus (with the exception of the donor portrait Metternich-Winneburg) was put up for auction at the Dorotheum Vienna on 25.11.1992 (lot 442) and purchased by an unknown person. However, the painting is still presumed to be in Austria.


1910 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 54 1910/11 #1178).
1911 Intern. Art Exhibition Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile.
1912 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 56 1911/12 #3334).
1986 Akademie Schillerplatz Wien, Viennese society in portrait, catalogue Nr. 22.


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #22 (no ill.)

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 98, cat.#66, ill.#48.


The artist and his estate.
1948-1992 Künstlerhaus Vienna.
Auction Dorotheum Vienna 25.11.1992 Lot 442.
Unknown private collection (Austria?).