Tragic Grandeur
Tragic Grandeur
By:, Categories: Words & Images, 2 comments


Looking a little like the iconic Scottish Widows TV ad woman-in-a-cape, with a power-browed spectre of death surrounding it, Wives of Fishermen by Belgium sculptor Pieter Braecke (1858-1938) is the final of our series from Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – and for me, this is arguably the most moving and haunting figures of all in the museum’s collection.


It is thought to be inspired by the death of Braecke’s cousin, who died when his fishing boat sank in a storm in 1869. It focuses on the grief and anguish the fisherwomen must have felt as they helplessly watched their husband and sons drown in a storm. There appears to be no hope offered by this sculpture, only solidarity in suffering. And Braecke wrote of it: ‘The women, shoving the one against the other, the anxious eyes wide opened, see their husbands and sons swept away by the savage waves and being devoured by the sea.’


Completed in 1914, it can also be interpreted on a universal level, at a time when women watched their husbands and sons leave for war. It was included in the 1916 League of Belgian Artists’ exhibition, Belgian Art in Exile, the catalogue of which was sold to benefit the Belgian Red Cross. It described Wives of Fishermen as ‘a work of tragic grandeur’.


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  • Some things thru out History never change
    Women and their Woes... I do think we 'suffer' more than our male counterparts
    It oh, will I be raked over the coals for saying this ... 😉

  • I won't be doing any raking, coals or otherwise!