In this dramatic scene, we find a man facing his demise on a rudderless fishing boat that’s lost its mast, threatened by both sharks and a distant waterspout. The roiling sea is tinged with blood. On the left horizon, we can see the faint outline of a schooner, though the doomed man isn’t aware of this possible salvation. The artist added it to the nearly-finished canvas later as a sign of hopeful rescue. Homer painted this after a winter visit to the Bahamas, and some experts have said he may be using the Gulf Stream to symbolize the era’s racial tensions.