"The Shipwreck" Home

ARTful Bodies: The Body in Art at the Worcester Art Museum

Virtual Tour of The Shipwreck


Welcome to this virtual tour of Hubert Robert’s “The Shipwreck”  

Throughout these pages you will find a variety of information about the artist, the time period in which he lived and worked, this specific work, as well as a comparison to other works and to modern day.  Please feel free to click around, listen to the video, and explore the site.  If you need a pointer regarding were to start, take a look at the “About the Project” page to get a feel for how this website is incorporated into a larger project stemming from the College of the Holy Cross. 


Keeping the Big Picture Connections in Mind

As you are viewing Hubert Robert’s The Shipwreck, as well as other paintings near it in the Worcester Art Museum, it is important to keep some big picture connections in mind.  Think of it as a strategy for getting the most out of your virtual tour.  As you will read more in depth in subsequent pages, this painting was created during the Romantic period, a time favoring the unknown over the well-defined, favoring the unpredictable over the rationally explained, and particularly in depictions of landscapes, favoring portrayals of the cataclysmic power of nature over its occasionally mellow quality.  This was a sharp divergence from the previous ideas of the Enlightenment, which promoted logical reason, predictability, and knowledge.    As you are exploring the many-angled analyses of this painting, consider how these themes of Romanticism under-gird each.  For instance, how has the art of the Romantic period been shaped by its historical context?  Answers to this question can be found on the page “About the Painting,” which outlines how the French Revolution served as a turning point between these two styles.  Consider how Hubert Robert represents Romantic themes in his work and what influenced him to do this.  Some interesting facts about his experiences during the French Revolution on the “About the Artist” page may help you to answer this question.  Lastly, how do these Romantic representations shape how viewers interpret the piece and relate to it today?  From conversations with high school students, to my personal connection and today’s perspectives, we see that the uncertainty and helplessness in the midst of a storm portrayed in this painting represents a theme that remains relevant today.  As you are taking this virtual tour, put on your “Romanticism glasses” and see how the themes of Romantic art offer a useful lens through which one can view this painting, its historical context, and its modern interpretations. 


Hubert Robert , French, 1733–1808 
The Shipwreck

Credit Line

Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts

Museum Purchase