This is the illustration for the cover for 'Postuum', the second novel by the Dutch writer Nelleke Posthumus Meyjes, published by
The man can be seen sitting on boxes, looking over the water. 
He was the famous physicist Paul Ehrenfest, born to Jewish parents in Vienna in 1880, professor of physics at the Rijksuniversiteit in Leiden and passed away in Amsterdam in 1933. 
Important are: his briefcase and hat, symbol for his knowledge and rich content. He literally put his briefcase and hat aside. That briefcase is always present in the story. 
Then the bridge in the background. It is also important, it symbolizes his son Wassik, a 15-year-old boy with Down syndrome. 
The most important thing is the atmosphere of the drawing, this rather gloomy atmosphere of Amsterdam from the 1930’s and the musing sitting and staring over the water. 
The illustration is the symbol for Nel, the art historian who actually wanted to be a painter and always paints and draws in her head. Drawing, sketching, oil portraits, watercolor landscapes, atmospheric impressions, color exercises she constantly did internally and also on paper 'as a hobby'. Art (studying) was her life and her passion and her support. 
The illustration shows how she, and everybody else, saw Ehrenfest at this stage. Strong, characteristic, but very desperate.
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