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Detail: Scraping to change elbow position
Initially, Homer had painted the arm bent at the elbow with the wrist elevated and bent forward. Homer may have felt that portraying the man in this way made him appear too animated. He decided to alter the position of the shipwrecked man’s proper right arm by scraping away the paint in the region of the elbow and repainting the arm straight across. By straightening the arm, Homer left the man’s mortal condition more ambiguous and heightened the anxiety of the scene.
However, Homer was not able to scrape the area entirely clean. Roughened fibers and brown and black pigment are evident. To camouflage the change, Homer painted green strands of beach grass over the scraped area. This decision may have prompted him to add green beach grass to the foreground, as they do not appear farther down the beach.
Detail of After the Hurricane, showing where Homer scraped out the figure’s elbow to shift the position of his arm.