This post is inspired by a painting that I received a poster of from a really cool person who went to the Netherlands. The work is called “Children of the Sea” by Jozef Israëls and depicts a few children, surprisingly enough, in the sea. Most critics believe that the four children are siblings and the offspring of a fisherman.
The oldest child is closest to and stares at his future in the miniature sailboat in front of him. This same child holds up his youngest sibling, representative of how as the oldest child he must take upon the burden of supporting the family. His closeness to the sailboat underscores the same idea. However, none of this is depressing or sorrowful, but just a simple fact of life that the artist shows to us. The color scheme is peaceful and relaxing, lacking any strong colors or gloomy colors that would suggest any emotion the artist wishes to relay to us, the viewers.
This work and the many like it that Israëls painted in his lifetime were met with incredible commercial success that seemed unfounded. One analysis of his work explained how he “systematically ignored or violated almost every principle and practice by which other artists have won fame — draughtsmanship, technique, coloring, beauty of subject, decorative treatment, even community of experience with the people portrayed” and still managed to become an important figure and a leader in Dutch art.
His popularity can be contributed to how he perfectly fit with the times around him, since his style was a result of the times. The loose brushstrokes and brown-ish tinge are distinctly Dutch elements, with some influence by French realism. His works transformed throughout the ages, becoming gloomier but always maintaining popularity. Children of the Sea remains one of his more popular works, representative his works of his more joyous periods.