My husband and my son were bewitched by a mermaid singing. These fools wouldn’t fish. They came back home with no fish. Finally they realized that we had nothing to eat or to sell at the market. We were dying from hunger. So then they put corks in their ears for not to be bewitched. They were able to fish again, and I thank the Virgin for we have food on our table again.

Large (Wikimedia)

Michael Ancher painted The Drowned Fisherman in 1896.

As the Skagen Museum writes, Michael Ancher “combines the classic compositional principles of historic paintings with a fascinating realism,” often painting dramatic scenes of fishermen.

In case you couldn’t tell from the title (and the composition itself), dear reader, this certainly fits that description.

Indeed, the somber group of fishermen in their dark clothes, slightly shiny with waterproofing, provide a stark and deliberate contrast to the drowned man and his family in yellow and blue, illuminated by the clear light through the window.

The ragged clothes and humble interior make the solemnity of the scene all the more striking—even the simple wood table on which the dead man has been laid is reminiscent of the stone Christ is laid upon in many scenes of the Entombment.

After few years of marriage my husband was taken by the sea. He left me alone with our little boy whom I had to feed. I didn’t know a lot about fishing, but I took the boat and the net and went to the sea. I asked St. Barbara for help, and she decided to help me. My net was filled with fish. So, without great effort, I managed to have a good yield. In that way I was able to collect enough money to open a fish shop at the town market.