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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Northwest Salmon Fishermen

Northwest Salmon Fishermen


Rudolph Franz Zallinger

born Irkutsk, Siberia, 1919; died Branford, Connecticut, 1995

Realism notably took hold in America during the Great Depression, and it persisted throughout the 1930s as an often humorous and always populist reflection of the received histories associated with the nation’s diverse regions. Zallinger’s hilarious take on the infamous Seattle Times’s fishing derby of 1940 is a specifically Northwest iteration of American regionalism. He reinterprets this storied event as a commentary on greed and the corrupting influence of money, showing us the dubious characters who entered the fishing contest because they believed the sport was one of luck and not skill. Indeed, the derby was scandalized by cheating in this, its inaugural, year, leading to the widespread feeling among sportsmen that huge jackpots had degraded the sport.
Tempera on pressed fiber board, in artist-made engaged frame
25 3/4 x 35 5/8 in. (65.4 x 90.5 cm)
In artist-made engaged frame, 27 7/8 x 37 7/8 in.
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: The artist; purchased by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 1943
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Paintings by the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters, Jan. 6 - Feb. 7, 1943. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Art of the Thirties: The Pacific Northwest, Apr. 1 - 30, 1972 (Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, May 24 - June 25, 1972). Text by Martha Kingsbury. Cat. no. 43, pp. 18, 26, reproduced p. 56.

New Britain, Connecticut, The New Britain Museum of American Art, Rudolph Zallinger: A Retrospective Exhibition, Feb. 8 - Mar. 18, 1979. Cat. no. 7 [as Salmon Derby].

Bellevue, Washington, Bellevue Art Museum, Washington: 100 Years, 100 Paintings, Apr. 29 - June 25, 1995. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, From New York to Seattle: Case Studies in American Abstraction and Realism, Jan. 15, 2020 - June 5, 2022.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: The Stories We Carry, Oct. 20, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesIn chronological order:

Callahan, Kenneth. "Puget Sound Group Show at Museum," Seattle Times, January 16, 1943: p. 5.

Harmon, Kitty, ed. The Pacific Northwest Landscape: A Painted History. Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2001, reproduced p. 90.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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