Artwork Details

Mathias J. Alten
American

1871–1938

The Broken Mast
1910 – 1911
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
32 x 42 inches
Location
Level 2 Changing Exhibition Galleries
Accession Number
1998.1.2
Credit
Gift of Peter C. and Pat Cook

About the Artwork

Grand Rapids artist Mathias J. Alten journeyed to the Netherlands in August 1910, taking his family with him. Alten spent about a year in Katwijk and other coastal towns, producing seascapes and beach scenes almost every day. Among these was The Broken Mast, which depicts a team of three horses straining to pull a boat ashore on the rugged coast. In the Netherlands, three-horse teams were used to pull in boats either for the season or for repair, as is the case in this painting. The composition, which celebrates the dignity and power of men and animals working together, was influenced by contemporary Hague School artists Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Willem Maris. Alten utilizes a pervasive blue-grey tonality to convey the damp, heavy air as the mighty horses labor over the wet beach.