Johannes Stradanus

pen and ink drawing of figures on coast and in boats

Johannes Stradanus (1523–1605)
Pearl Diving
c. 1596
Pen and brown ink with wash and white gouache
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

This detailed study was made in preparation for a print, published in Antwerp in 1600. It depicts fishermen hunting for pearls in the Persian Gulf. Divers are lowered from rowboats to the ocean floor in search of oysters. The collected shellfish are then shucked and evaluated. An inscription in the lower margin refers to the expedition of the Venetian merchant Gasparo Balbi, who studied local methods of pearl fishing in Persia in 1580.

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