Fishermen carrying a Drowned Man

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Dark groups of figures stand out against the light of the pale blue and silver sky. A huddled procession comes over the windswept dunes: two fishermen are carrying the body of dead man. Ahead of everyone else walks a woman, presumably the widow, her two children clinging to her. The composition was probably painted in Amsterdam in 1861, from studies made in Zandvoort, a fishing village near Haarlem. Israëls spent several months in Zandvoort, becoming interested in the tragic lives of the fishermen and their families. He has depicted the subject of the drowned fisherman with unprecedented sympathy, and has used an unusually large format that was traditionally reserved for history paintings. The work signified a breakthrough in Israëls’s career.

The National Gallery, London



Fishermen carrying a Drowned Man


probably 1861


Oil on canvas


H 129 x W 244 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Mrs Alexander Young at her husband's wish, 1910

Work type



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