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After the Shipwreck

Painting, 1847, 36×57 cm
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Description of the artwork «After the Shipwreck»

In 1819, Théodore Géricault, one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement, presented his Raft of the Medusa at the Salon in Paris. This grand painting told about the fate of soldiers and sailors from the wrecked frigate Medusa left in the sea without fresh water and food on the uncontrolled raft. Jules Michelet, a French historian and political writer, said about the artwork that it was France itself with its society on the raft of Medusa.

When the young artist Eugène Delacroix who was a model for one of the characters painted by Géricault, saw the finished Raft of the Medusa, he was so exalted that he started running as a mad man and could not stop till he reached his house. We could say, the exaltation of the artist had been with him till his death; the theme of the sea and death, shipwreck and wind, weather and fate had been revealed in his oeuvre. In 1822, Delacroix created his first important painting, the Barque of Dante. From 1822 to 1824, he executed a number of illustrations to the Don Juan by Lord Byron selecting the dramatic moment of a shipwreck, and in 1854 he painted the Christ on the Sea of Galilee. The small painting in front of you was included into the collection of Tretyakov. It was painted probably in 1840 – 1847. It likely develops the subject of the Shipwreck of Don Juan at the Louvre Museum.

On the contrary to the illustration to the Don Juan by Lord Byron with many figures and detailed depiction of the moment when the survivors decided by toss who would be sacrificed because of a hunger, this painting is very laconic. Only six persons in a small boat are sailing with bare poles and without paddles; three of them are resting exhausted on the bottom of the rickety boat, other two are ready to throw overboard the body of their dead mate. The artist neither depicts the details nor reveals the characters of his subjects practically not showing their faces, because the moving and breathing water mass seemingly melting into a twilight sky is the most important for him, and not the people.

Author: Oksana Sanzharova
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Marina, Literary scene

Style of art: Romanticism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1847

Size: 36×57 cm

Artwork in selections: 6 selections

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