Standing Ovation, Seated

It is important that you read Part I. I want this post to scare you a bit and you won’t be properly frightened unless you are prepared by the first installment in the series.

Eleven men are tugging a barge upstream. They are sun-burned, dirty, ragged fellows whom we, representatives of the educated urban classes, love to avoid. Especially when we see such men clustered in a large group. God knows what they may want from us, nicely dressed folks, returning home from a fine Michelin-recommended restaurant. It is usually best to cross the street or choose another route altogether.

Yet in this painting the viewer does not feel immediately threatened. These men are passing the viewer, slowly and in measured steps, like harnessed animals.  No one is scared of bulls or horses when they are tethered to something heavy. And the barge is quite reassuring in this respect.


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