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The Cover
April 18, 2001

Fishing Boats With Hucksters Bargaining for Fish

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2001;285(15):1932. doi:10.1001/jama.285.15.1932

Some 20 years elapsed between the time Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W.) Turner (1775-1851) painted The Junction of the Thames and the Medway (JAMA cover, August 9, 2000) and Fishing Boats With Hucksters Bargaining for Fish (cover ). Thirty-two when he painted the first, he was now fifty-two years old. The paintings are strikingly similar, yet distinctive, the way siblings might be mistaken for one another—until one sees them together. Both are seascapes, both are stormy scenes with heaving seas and roiling clouds, and both feature small boats filled with puny figures at the mercy of the sea. The foreground in each is marked by a buoy. There is little doubt as to who—the sea or the humans—will prevail, if not immediately, at least ultimately. Yet the two paintings exhibit vast differences; the 20 years between have bestowed a confidence, an elegance, a polish beyond that of the earlier painting. The youthful, callow work, all sharp points and angles and crude contrasts, has become the smooth, polished man of the world, self-possessed, sophisticated. Experience has turned the light more golden, the skies more blue, the contrasts more subtle. Skill has softened the edges, living given depth.