Rolf Nesch, Herring Catch, a colour metal print in six parts

Norway, AD 1938

A dramatic multipartite composition

Early in 1938 Rolf Nesch (1893-1975) watched a herring catch off the west coast of Norway. It was to be one of the most important experiences of his life, and it strengthened his sense of identification with Norway. He subsequently wrote:

'The herring catch was an immense experience that I shall never forget. I have made a series of prints, six coloured sheets that go together.... It is my best graphic work so far. Under no circumstances whatsoever would I leave this country without having seen the herring catch'.

Nesch intended these six prints to be seen as a single composition, in contrast to his earlier series of twenty-one prints inspired by cod-fishing off the Lofoten Islands near the Arctic Circle in 1936. He has caught the drama of the catch across the sheets, with the seine net and its vast shoal of fish as the central focus.

The multipartite composition of this work is exemplary of Nesch's new approach to printmaking. The composition of the Herring Catch ultimately gave rise to his most ambitious 'material picture' installed in Oslo's Industry and Export headquartersin 1965; this involved a technique of applying a mosaic of glass and other materials within a reticulated framework on a metal surface, which he first attempted in 1934.

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Rolf Nesch, Herring Catch, a colour metal print in six parts

© 2001 Rolf Nesch / DACS


More information


U. Bestgen and C. Rathke (eds.), Rolf Nesch 1893-1975, exh. cat. (Schleswig-Holsteines Landesmuseum, 1993)

F. Carey, Modern Scandinavian prints, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

E.O. Hjelle, Rolf Nesch (Gyldendal, 1998)

J. Askeland, The graphic art of Rolf Nesch, exh. cat. (Detroit Institute of Art, 1969)

F. Carey and A. Griffiths, The print in Germany 1880-1933, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Height: 598.000 mm
Width: 420.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1983-6-25-51(1-6)



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