Back from Sea

Though his uniform may date this painting by the English artist Arthur Hughes (1832-1915), the grief of returning home to death it shares has been experienced by generations of sailors. Recently home from the sea, the sailor lays collapsed with grief or exhaustion, or perhaps a bit of both in a churchyard cemetery. His grief is evident even if we do not know for whom he mourns.

The young sailor has his head on his hands with his hat and belongings nearby. Beside the young man is someone, presumably from the church, and equally young sitting nearby to console the young man while he deals with the death of someone he must have held dear.

Hughes’ 1862 work seems almost photographic in the background and yet the foreground, either through a bit of damage or by design appears less so. Hope is represented by a rambling rose bush with pink blooms climbing up a nearby shade tree.