Adam Willaerts (1659 – 1722)
The painting by the renowned marine painter Adam Willaerts is part of a tradition that had emancipated itself from the sea battle depictions of earlier history paintings. The shipwreck thematizes the grandeur of mighty nature while pointing to the puniness of human existence. The compositionally powerful handling of the light and the alternation of light and dark zones of clouds emphasize the drama of the narrative. The cross on the high cliff in the right-hand third of the picture suggests that this may also be an expression of Christian mystic light like that found in the works of Rembrandt.