After the Tempest

  • Artist: Jens Ferdinand Willumsen
  • Creation date: 1905
  • Object type: Painting

On display: Room 063 The Collection Exhibition - Life force


A young woman comes running on a deserted beach with a small boy hot on her heels. Trying to reach her, the boy stretches his right arm toward her, but in vain – the woman’s body language clearly indicates that she has enough with herself and her own anguish. We see the reason behind her: a capsized boat that was swept up in a storm. Perhaps it is one of her loved ones who has drowned in the tempest that now has passed? She and the boy are left to fend for themselves amidst the desolate, inhospitable nature. Even the intense rays of the sun, the jagged bluffs, and the empty beach are sensed as threatening and corrosive. Jens Ferdinand Willumsen has emphasized all these elements through his sharp delineation and a discordant colour scheme that highlights bright violets, grimy oranges, poisonous greens, and acidic yellows.

At the time Willumsen was interested in the dynamic relationship between the creative and destructive forces of nature, often in connection with mountain and maritime landscapes. In his painting Sun and Youth, the running and bathing children represent the vigorous joy of life, while the overriding emotions in After the Tempest are despair and isolation. Willumsen’s inspiration for the running woman was the plaster casts of the victims who fled from the volcanic outbreak in Pompeii (AD 79). During the excavations at Pompeii, the excavators discovered that plaster could be poured into the cavities that people, animals, and objects had left behind in the layers of ash, so that castings could thus be made of them. Willumsen was familiar with these castings.

As a painter, potter, sculptor, and architect, Jens Ferdinand Willumsen was Denmark’s most international and versatile artist around the year 1900. He made the intricately designed frame with its bronze ornamentation himself.

Text: Frithjof Bringager

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0


Jens Ferdinand Willumsen

Visual artist

Born 1863 in København, Danmark, death 1958 in Cannes

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Etter stormen (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Tempera på lerret
  • Width: 150.5 cm
  • Depth: 2.4 cm
  • Height: 156 cm
Motif - type:
Acquired 1913
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Larsen, Frode
© Willumsen, Jens Ferdinand/BONO