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The Fisherman

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

The Essence of Heroism and Compassion in 'The Fisherman or Gammal Fiskargubbe' by Harry Haerendel. Painted around 1920

The Fisherman by Harry Haerendel around 1920
The Fisherman by Harry Haerendel painted around 1920


Replica painted by: Frants Egon Jensen 1960's (watermarked)


This artwork is a duplicate crafted by my Danish Bestefar, which is Norwegian for Grandfather. It hung in our living room for as far back as my memory stretches. My father gave it to me because I was a comercial fisherman for over a decade, its significance remained unknown to me for years; until I did some research.


Art possesses a unique capacity to encapsulate human experiences, emotions, and stories. Among the impactful masterpieces, 'The Fisherman,' a creation by the artist Harry Haerendel, radiates. Yet, its significance deepens as it portrays the real-life hero Dorus Rijkers, a valiant Dutch sea rescuer whose courage saved innumerable lives. This article delves into 'The Fisherman,' serving as a reminder that heroes can arise unexpectedly, triumphing over adversity.


Artist: Harry Haerendel (1896–1991)


Born in 1896, Harry Haerendel left an indelible artistic legacy by blending vision and expertise. Amidst the shifts of society, 'The Fisherman' emerged, showcasing Haerendel's profound creations.


The Hero: Dorus Rijkers (1847–1928) in Depiction


Dorus Rijkers, born in 1847, embodied the essence of heroism. As a Dutch sea rescuer, he courageously saved the lives of over 500 individuals, epitomizing selflessness, valor, and unwavering dedication.


Composition: A Tribute to a Lifesaver


'The Fisherman' pays homage to Rijkers. He stands resolute on a rugged outcrop, confronting tumultuous waves—a symbolic representation of his daring rescue missions. Haerendel's selection captures his steadfastness amidst peril, signifying his role as a guardian of humanity. His stance embodies duty in the face of life's trials. The sea mirrors the unpredictableness of existence, while his bravery and resolve serve as a wellspring of inspiration. The painting beautifully merges art with heroism, offering a poignant reminder of self-sacrifice and fortitude. Haerendel's canvas transcends its medium, a subdued palette invoking contemplation.


"The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker.


In the year 2014, Pøbel created a contemporary rendition of "The Fisherman" situated in Henningsvær, Lofoten. The traditional attire of the fisherman, including his jacket and rain hat, underwent a metamorphosis in this artwork. The jacket was substituted with an immersion suit, while the rain hat was traded for a helmet. This resulted in the evolution of "The Fisherman 2014" into the depiction of an oil worker.

"The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker. picture
"The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker.

His introspective disposition and weathered countenance, engrossed in contemplation as he smokes tobacco while fixating on the distant horizon, remain unchanged. However, with the oil sector's migration to northern Norway, a pressing question emerges: Could this signify the culmination of "The Fisherman"? Might it also herald the demise of fishing communities and a heritage that has nourished Europe for countless generations? Through his art, Pøbel confronts not only capitalists and the oil industry, but also the Norwegian state, urging a pivotal choice that will determine the trajectory of northern Norway's future.


Close up picture of "The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker.
Close up picture of "The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker.

Picture taken from a distance of "The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker.
Picture taken from a distance of "The Fisherman 2014" is transformed into an oil worker.

Photographs courtesy of: Ole Morten Eyra




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