No fewer than five Dutch fishing vessels are portrayed in the coastal waters of the North Sea in this atmospheric narrative work by Herman Herzog. The nation depended heavily on the merchant commerce of sea-driven industries, and the hard work of these individuals would provide for many others. Traditionally fishermen rise before the dawn and try to return with a full hold before sunset each day to the safety of their ports, to rest an evening before setting out again.
The weather is cold and wet in Herzog's depiction, even a century and a half away. He masterfully knows the activities of the men at sea, and the prevailing Laws of Nature which the men consciously respect while simultaneously setting the sails and drawing in the nets. Several of the ships, with their sideboards raised, have topsails set on square yards, which is a variation of rig not seen very often on waters this far north. They are working the prevailing current, which is strongly driven by a wind that would challenge experienced sailors, and still they hang over the rails to bring in the catch..
The dramatic element of the sky break within a heavy clouded presence is a device that many artists will employ over the years, prominently amongst them marine master Robert Salmon and the Buttersworth Family of artists. Herzog as well will go on to America to paint his greatest works, including large epic panels of the "Four Seasons" where this element is employed. Here it is touched with a hopeful bit of orange warmth at the cloud edges. The flotsam is just as telling as a method of helping to convey the distance shown beyond in a realistic scale as well as a reminder to the precarious nature of the work at hand. A very well performed painting telling truthful the efforts of the these men and many others, the world over..
first name :