André Romijn’s oil painting is a poignant representation of the aftermath of a devastating hurricane that struck out of the blue the fishermen from Arnemuiden and Vlissingen on July 18, 1924. Four boats sank. Of the sixteen people on board, only one could be saved.
The composition is centred around a little girl who stares directly at the viewer, her expression one of solemnity and perhaps a precocious understanding of the event’s gravity. This direct engagement is arresting and serves as an emotional anchor for the entire piece. The driftwood frame adds an element of the sea and perhaps a reference to the materials that might be left behind after such a storm.
The figures surrounding the girl are rendered with a sombre, earthy palette, which reinforces the sombre mood of the scene. The use of shadow and light is particularly effective; the faces are cast in shadow or turned away, which may symbolize the collective grief and despair that such a tragedy engenders. The little girl’s face, in contrast, is illuminated, drawing the viewer’s attention and emphasizing her role as the emotional focal point of the painting.
Romijn’s style here is reminiscent of social realism, with a focus on the human condition and an emphasis on the narrative being conveyed. The figures are depicted in a stylised manner, with strong lines and a certain rigidity that could reflect the fortitude of the community in the face of disaster.
The texture of the paintwork adds to the overall sense of weight and history. The thickness of the paint and the visible brushstrokes convey the physical act of remembering and recording such a poignant moment. Romijn is not merely creating a visual representation; he is engaging in an act of memorialisation through his medium.
A compelling piece of historical remembrance.
This painting is more than a historical record; it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. The central figure of the little girl suggests the continuation of life and the enduring strength of the survivors, even as they are ensconced in the shadow of loss. The sombre tones and the almost palpable atmosphere of communal mourning are balanced by the presence of youth, which subtly implies hope amidst despair.
In summary, Romijn’s painting is a powerful evocation of a moment frozen in time, a representation of grief that is both personal and communal. The little girl’s gaze out of the canvas challenges the viewer not to forget the human cost of such tragedies, making this work a compelling piece of historical remembrance.
- Size (h w d): 122 x 80 cm
- Framed Size (h w d): 151 x 118.5 x 7 cm
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