The Poor Fisherman (1881) by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

The Poor Fisherman - Pierre Puvis de Chavannes - 1881

Artwork Information

TitleThe Poor Fisherman
ArtistPierre Puvis de Chavannes
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions105.8 x 68.6 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationNational Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

About The Poor Fisherman

“The Poor Fisherman” is a notable artwork by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, completed in 1881. This oil on canvas piece is an embodiment of the Symbolism art movement and is classified as a genre painting. The artwork measures 105.8 cm in height and 68.6 cm in width. Currently, it is housed in the National Museum of Western Art, located in Tokyo, Japan.

The artwork depicts a somber scene of a fisherman on a tranquil expanse of water. He is seen in a knee-deep position within a modest, crude boat, his posture reflecting a sense of resignation or contemplation. He is gazing down, away from the viewer, giving an impression of being lost in thought or perhaps overwhelmed by his circumstances. His clothing is simple and unadorned, suggesting a humble status, which is accentuated by the title of the work, indicating his poverty.

In the boat with him, there appears to be a young child, who is huddled and turned away, further emphasizing the vulnerability and hardship denoted by the scene. The background is subdued with soft, muted colors portraying the sky and distant land, contributing to the overall melancholic atmosphere of the painting. The use of a limited color palette and the diffused light in the scene evoke a sense of stillness and timelessness, typical of Symbolist works aiming to capture and express an emotional or spiritual state through art.

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