Two monarch butterflies and a yellow perch are juxtaposed in a manner so casual that one scarcely questions this apparent paradox. Homer perhaps developed this image from his watercolor, Trout Breaking,1 in which a fish leaps out of water to join the company of butterflies.
After finishing the watercolor, Homer apparently decided to alter its proportions by marking off a strip at the bottom, above which he signed his name.
The drawing has also been known, although incorrectly, as Tropical Fish.
1. Illustrated in Nathaniel Poussette-Dart, Winslow Homer (New York, 1923) [no pagination; from the collection of John T. Spaulding, Boston.]
—Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Standish D. Lawder, and Charles W. Talbot, Jr., Drawings from the Clark Art Institute, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 1:146, no. 350.