The monumental painting depicts the aftermath of a shipwreck that occurred in 1816 in which the captain and officers took the life boats and abandoned the rest of the crew to a makeshift raft. Only 15 of the 149 raft passengers survived. The painting is not only an allegorical indictment of a corrupt establishment, but also dramatizes man’s struggle with nature. The classical composition combined with the turbulent subject marks the painting as a bridge between neo-classicism and romanticism.
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