Winslow Homer

American Naturalist Painter, Engraver, Etcher & Illustrator

1836 - 1910

Photo of Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art.

Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator. He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1836, Homer was the second of three sons of Charles Savage Homer and Henrietta Benson Homer, both from long lines of New Englanders. His mother was a gifted amateur watercolorist and Homer's first teacher, and she and her son had a close relationship throughout their lives. Homer took on many of her traits, including her quiet, strong-willed, terse, sociable nature; her dry sense of humor; and her artistic talent. Homer had a happy childhood, growing up mostly in rural Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was an average student, but his art talent was on display early.

Homer's father was a volatile, restless businessman who was always looking to "make a killing". When Homer was thirteen, Charles gave up the hardware store business to seek a fortune in the California gold rush. When that failed, Charles left his family and went to Europe to raise capital for other get-rich-quick schemes that didn't materialize.

After Homer's high school graduation, his father saw an ad in the newspaper and arranged for an apprenticeship. Homer's apprenticeship to a Boston commercial lithographer at the age of 19 was a formative but "treadmill experience". He worked repetitively on sheet music covers and other commercial work for two years. By 1857, his freelance career was underway after he turned down an offer to join the staff of Harper's Weekly. "From the time I took my nose off that lithographic stone", Homer later stated, "I have had no master, and never shall have any."

Homer's career as an illustrator lasted nearly twenty years. He contributed to magazines such as Ballou's Pictorial and Harper's Weekly, at a time when the market for illustrations was growing rapidly, and when fads and fashions were changing quickly. His early works, mostly commercial engravings of urban and country social scenes, are characterized by clean outlines, simplified forms, and dramatic contrast of light and dark, and lively figure groupings- qualities that remained important throughout his career. His quick success was mostly due to this strong understanding of graphic design and also to the adaptability of his designs to wood engraving.

Some Engravings and Prints of Winslow Homer

1860-1870: Published January 8, 1870

A Bivouac Fire on the Potomac: Published December 21, 1861

A Cadet Hop at West Point: Published September 3, 1859

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year: Published December 24, 1859

A Night Reconnaissance: Published October 26, 1861

A Parisian Ball Dancing at the Casino: Published November 23, 1867

A Parisian Ball Dancing at the Mabille, Paris: Published November 23, 1867

A Picnic by Land: Published June 5, 1858

A Snow Slide in the City: Published January 14, 1860

A Winter Morning Shovelling Out: Published January 14, 1871

All in the Gay and Golden Weather: Published June 12, 1869

Allow me to Examine the Young Lady: Published February 18, 1860

Another Year by the Old Clock: Published January 1, 1870

Any Thing for Me If You Please: Post Office of the Brooklyn Fair in Aid of the Sanitary Commission
Published March 5, 1864

Army of the Potomac Sleeping on Their Arms: Published May 21, 1864

Art Students and Copyists in the Louvre Gallery, Paris: Published January 11, 1868

At Sea Signalling a Passing Steamer: Published April 8, 1871

August in the Country - The Seashore: Published August 27, 1859

Bathing at Long Branch - Oh, Ain't it Cold: Published August 26, 1871

Bayonet Charge: 1862

Camping Out in the Adirondack Mountains: Published November 7, 1874

Charge of the First Massachusetts Regiment on a Rebel Rifle Pit near Yorktown: Published May 17, 1862

Christmas Boxes in Camp Christmas 1861: Published January 4, 1862

Colonel Wilson of Wilson's Brigade and Colonel Ellsworth of the Fire Zouaves: Published May 11, 1861

Expulsion of Negroes and Abolitionists from Tremont Temple
Boston, Massachusetts on December 3, 1860: Published December 15, 1860

Filling Cartridges at the United States Arsenal at Watertown, Massachusetts: Published July 20, 1861

Flag Officer Stringham: Published September 14, 1861

Floral Department of the Great Fair: Published April 16, 1864

General Beauregard: Published April 27, 1861

Home from the War: Published June 13, 1863

Hon Abraham Lincoln Born in Kentucky
February 12, 1809: Published November 10, 1860

News from the War: Published June 14, 1862

Snap the Whip: Published September 20, 1873

Tenth Commandment: Published March 12, 1870

Thanksgiving in Camp Harper's Weekly: 1862

The Bathers Harpers: 1873

Two Are Company Three Are None - Harper's Weekly 1872

Winter a Skating Scene: Published January 25, 1868

In 1859, he opened a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City, the artistic and publishing capital of the United States. Until 1863 he attended classes at the National Academy of Design, and studied briefly with Frédéric Rondel, who taught him the basics of painting. In only about a year of self-training, Homer was producing excellent oil work. His mother tried to raise family funds to send him to Europe for further study but instead Harper's sent Homer to the front lines of the American Civil War (1861 - 1865), where he sketched battle scenes and camp life, the quiet moments as well as the murderous ones. His initial sketches were of the camp, commanders, and army of the famous Union officer, Major General George B. McClellan, at the banks of the Potomac River in October, 1861.

Although the drawings did not get much attention at the time, they mark Homer's expanding skills from illustrator to painter. Like with his urban scenes, Homer also illustrated women during war time, and showed the effects of the war on the home front. The war work was dangerous and exhausting. Back at his studio, however, Homer would regain his strength and re-focus his artistic vision. He set to work on a series of war-related paintings based on his sketches, among them Sharpshooter on Picket Duty (1862), Home, Sweet Home (1863), and Prisoners from the Front (1866). He exhibited Home, Sweet Home at the National Academy and its remarkable critical reception resulted in its quick sale and in the artist being elected an Associate Academician, then a full Academician in 1865. After the war, Homer turned his attention primarily to scenes of childhood and young women, reflecting his own, and the country's, nostalgia for simpler times.

Sharpshooter on Picket Duty: 1862

Sent by Harper's to the front as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War, Homer captured the essential modernity of the conflict in such images as The Army of the Potomac-A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty. While traditional battle pictures usually depicted, in the words of a contemporary, "long lines…led on by generals in cocked hats," Homer instead shows a solitary figure who, using new rifle technology, is able to fire from a distance and remain unseen by his target.

The subject of this engraving is based on Homer's first oil painting. An emblematic image of the Civil War, the lone figure of a sharpshooter reveals the changing nature of modern warfare. With new, mass-produced weapons such as rifled muskets, killing became distant, impersonal, and efficiently deadly. Despite public admiration for sharpshooters' skill, ordinary soldiers looked upon them as cold-blooded, mechanical killers. Many years after the war, Homer wrote an old friend, "I looked through one of their rifles once....The...impression struck me as being as near murder as anything I could think of in connection with the army and I always had a horror of that branch of the service."

Home Sweet Home: ca 1863

Homer drew upon his experience of the war to create his first oil paintings, many of them scenes of camp life that illuminate the physical and psychological plight of ordinary soldiers. He received national acclaim for these early works, both for the strength of his technique and the candor of his subjects.

This picture, exhibited in New York in 1863, was enthusiastically admired and quickly sold. The title refers to the song frequently played by the Union regimental band, a piece that no doubt inspired homesickness and longing in the infantry men who listened to it.

But the title also refers to the soldiers' present "home," shown with all of its domestic details-a small pot on a smoky fire, hard biscuits on a tin plate-that Homer, who did the cooking and washing when he was on the front, knew intimately, and that, with surely intended irony, was far from "sweet."

Prisoners from the Front: 1866

The material that Homer collected as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War provided the subjects for his first oil paintings. In 1866, one year after the war ended and four years after he reputedly began to paint in oil, Homer completed this picture, a work that established his reputation. It represents an actual scene from the war in which a Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (1834-1896), captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864. The background depicts the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia. Infrared photography and numerous studies indicate that the painting underwent many changes in the course of completion.

At nearly the beginning of his painting career, the twenty-seven year old Homer demonstrated a maturity of feeling, depth of perception, and mastery of technique which was immediately recognized. His realism was objective, true to nature, and emotionally controlled. One critic wrote, "Winslow Homer is one of those few young artists who make a decided impression of their power with their very first contributions to the Academy...He at this moment wields a better pencil, models better, colors better, than many whom, were it not improper, we could mention as regular contributors to the Academy." And of Home, Sweet Home specifically, "There is no clap-trap about it. The delicacy and strength of emotion which reign throughout this little picture are not surpassed in the whole exhibition." "It is a work of real feeling, soldiers in camp listening to the evening band, and thinking of the wives and darlings far away. There is no strained effect in it, no sentimentality, but a hearty, homely actuality, broadly, freely, and simply worked out."

After exhibiting at the National Academy of Design, Homer finally traveled to Paris, France in 1867 where he remained for a year. His most praised early painting, Prisoners from the Front, was on exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris at the same time. He did not study formally but he practiced landscape painting while continuing to work for Harper's, depicting scenes of Parisian life.

Homer painted about a dozen small paintings during the stay. Although he arrived in France at a time of new fashions in art, Homer's main subject for his paintings was peasant life, showing more of an alignment with the established French Barbizon School and the artist Millet, then with newer artists Manet and Courbet. Though his interest in depicting natural light parallels that of the early impressionists, there is no evidence of direct influence as he was already a plein-air painter in America and had already evolved a personal style which was much closer to Manet than Monet. Unfortunately, Homer was very private about his personal life and his methods (even denying his first biographer any personal information or commentary), but his stance was clearly one of independence of style and a devotion to American subjects. As his fellow artist Eugene Benson wrote, Homer believed that artists "should never look at pictures" but should "stutter in a language of their own."

Throughout the 1870's Homer continued painting mostly rural or idyllic scenes of farm life, children playing, and young adults courting, including Country School (1871) and The Morning Bell (1872). In 1875, Homer quit working as a commercial illustrator and vowed to survive on his paintings and watercolors alone. Despite his excellent critical reputation, his finances continued to remain precarious. His popular 1872 painting, Snap-the-Whip, was exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as was one of his finest and most famous paintings Breezing Up (1876). Of his work at this time, Henry James wrote:

"We frankly confess that we detest his subjects...he has chosen the least pictorial range of scenery and civilization; he has resolutely treated them as if they were pictorial...and, to reward his audacity, he has incontestably succeeded."

Country School: 1871-72

This small painting of a one-room schoolhouse from about 150 years ago is filled with interesting details-the teacher's hat hanging on the wall, the lunch pails in the corner, the book, bell, and vase of flowers on the teacher's desk, and the wilted flowers on the floor. Children of various ages share books as the teacher stands between the windows that show a sunny day. The artist, Winslow Homer, introduces a mystery into the scene. Who is the little crying boy, and why is he sitting on the girls' side of the room?

The Morning Bell
(aka The Old Mill): 1872

The social role of women was profoundly changed by the Civil War, and economic necessity forced many to leave their homes to work in factories. Homer shows several of these young women, lunch pails in hand, on their way to work in a New England mill, possibly in Lowell, Massachusetts. While the focus of the painting is on the young women, underlying the whole scene is the uneasy sense of a young nation in transition between an agricultural and an industrial society. To earn extra money, many school teachers came from the city to work in factories during the summer months. The sense of shared community evoked by the circle of three rural women in aprons and earth-colored, homespun dresses chatting at the right is in striking contrast to the solitary central figure, inappropriately dressed for factory work in a straw bonnet and scarlet jacket. While the country women seem comfortably rooted in the fertile landscape, she hesitatingly turns from the ramp onto the makeshift bridge over a stagnant stream. Situated at the crossroads in the painting, she may be seen as symbolically poised between the rural values of the past and the increasingly isolated and depersonalized culture of American life after the Civil War.

Breezing Up
(aka A Fair Wind): 1876

The sea, which would dominate Homer's late work, began to assume a role in his paintings as early as 1873, when he summered at Gloucester, Massachusetts. Here, a catboat bearing the name Gloucester turns toward home in late afternoon, the day's catch of fish stowed in its cockpit. A brisk breeze raises whitecaps, fills the mainsail, and heels the boat over until its port rail is awash. Counteracting the wind, a fisherman and three boys throw their weight to the starboard side. On the horizon, a gull circles over a two-masted schooner.

The apparent spontaneity bears out Homer's statement, "I try to paint truthfully what I see, and make no calculations." In actual practice, however, Homer did carefully calculate his compositions, including this one. The oil painting, exhibited to popular and critical acclaim in 1876, began with a watercolor study probably done on the spot three years earlier in Gloucester harbor.

Comparison with the initial watercolor and laboratory examination of this final oil reveal many changes in design. Originally, the tiller was guided by the old man instead of a boy. A fourth boy once sat in the place now occupied by the anchor, a symbol of hope. Because in 1876 the United States was celebrating its centennial as a nation, Homer may have made these alterations to suggest the promise of America's youth.

Many disagreed with James. Breezing Up, Homer's iconic painting of four boys out for a leisurely sail, received wide praise. The New York Tribune wrote, "There is no picture in this exhibition, nor can we remember when there has been a picture in any exhibition, that can be named alongside this." Visits to Petersburg, Virginia around 1876 resulted in paintings of rural African American life. The same straightforward sensibility which allowed Homer to distill art from these potentially sentimental subjects also yielded the most unaffected views of African American life at the time, as illustrated in Dressing for the Carnival (1877) and A Visit from the Old Mistress (1876).

The Carnival
(aka Dressing for the Carnival): 1877

First exhibited as "Preparing for the Carnival" in Boston in 1878, this painting was re-titled when Homer put it up for sale at the Kurtz Gallery in New York in 1879. It was subsequently also called "The Carnival." It presumably was based upon sketches that Homer made in 1875 when he returned to Petersburg, Virginia. There, he made studies among the African Americans that served as a basis for a group of pictures painted over the next two years.

A Visit from the Old Mistress: 1876

At the end of the Civil War, black and white Southerners confronted the reconstructions of their society. American artist Winslow Homer painted 'A Visit from the Old Mistress' in 1876. In it he portrays the tension that existed between white plantation owners and their former slaves following emancipation. The women in the painting stand in a new relationship to each other that has not yet been defined. They face each other warily across a narrow space which no one moves to bridge.

Sunday Morning in Virginia: 1887

"Sunday Morning, Virginia" depicts a group of African-Americans learning to read in a slave cabin after the Civil War. A young teacher, wearing a crisp dress and apron, sits surrounded by three children as she teaches them to read the Bible.

In 1877, Homer exhibited for the first time at the Boston Art Club with the oil painting, An Afternoon Sun, (owned by the Artist). From 1877 through 1909 Homer exhibited often at the Boston Art Club. Works on paper, both drawings and watercolors, were frequently exhibited by Homer beginning in 1882. A most unusual sculpture by the Artist, Hunter with Dog - Northwoods, was exhibited in 1902. By that year Homer had switched his primary Gallery from the Boston based Doll and Richards to the New York City based Knoedler & Co.

Homer became a member of The Tile Club, a group of artists and writers who met frequently to exchange ideas and organize outings for painting, as well as foster the creation of decorative tiles. For a short time, he designed tiles for fireplaces. Homer's nickname in The Tile Club was "The Obtuse Bard". Other well known Tilers were painters William Merritt Chase, Arthur Quartley, and the sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens.

Homer started painting with watercolors on a regular basis in 1873 during a summer stay in Gloucester, Massachusetts. From the beginning, his technique was natural, fluid and confident, demonstrating his innate talent for a difficult medium. His impact would be revolutionary. Here, again, the critics were puzzled at first, "A child with an ink bottle could not have done worse." Another critic said that Homer "made a sudden and desperate plunge into water color painting". But his watercolors proved popular and enduring, and sold more readily, improving his financial condition considerably. They varied from highly detailed (Blackboard - 1877) to broadly impressionistic (Schooner at Sunset - 1880). Some watercolors were made as preparatory sketches for oil paintings (as for "Breezing Up") and some as finished works in themselves. Thereafter, he seldom traveled without paper, brushes and water based paints.

Blackboard: 1877

For a short period in the late 1870's, a decorative quality became evident in Homer's art. 'Blackboard', which continues the theme of elementary education found in many of his oils, epitomizes this development. The studied elegance of the work's design derives in part from its monochromatic palette and in part from the geometric patterning found in the bands of color in the background, the checkered apron, and the marks on the board.

The marks on the blackboard puzzled scholars for many years. They now have been identified as belonging to a method of drawing instruction popular in American schools in the 1870's. In their earliest lessons, young children were taught to draw by forming simple combinations of lines, as seen on the blackboard here. Rather than being a polite accomplishment, drawing was viewed as having a practical application, playing a valuable role in industrial design. Homer playfully signed the blackboard in its lower-right corner as though with chalk.

Schooner at Sunset: 1880

As a result of disappointments with women or from some other emotional turmoil, Homer became reclusive in the late 1870's, no longer enjoying urban social life and living instead in Gloucester. For a while, he even lived in a lighthouse on an island (with the keeper's family). In re-establishing his love of the sea, Homer found a rich source of themes while closely observing the fishermen, the sea, and the marine weather. After 1880, he rarely featured genteel women at leisure, focusing instead on working women.

Homer spent two years (1881 - 1882) in the English coastal village of Cullercoats, Northumberland. Many of the paintings at Cullercoats took as their subjects working men and women and their daily heroism, imbued with a solidity and sobriety which was new to Homer's art, presaging the direction of his future work. He wrote, "The women are the working bees. Stout hardy creatures." His palette became constrained and sober; his paintings larger, more ambitious, and more deliberately conceived and executed. His subjects were more universal and less nationalistic, more heroic by virtue of his unsentimental rendering. Although he moved away from the spontaneity and bright innocence of the American paintings of the 1860's and 1870's, Homer found a new style and vision which carried his talent into new realms.

Back in the U.S. in November 1882, Homer showed his English watercolors in New York. Critics noticed the change in style at once, "He is a very different Homer from the one we knew in days gone by", now his pictures "touch a far higher plane...They are works of High Art." Homer's women were no longer "dolls who flaunt their millinery" but "sturdy, fearless, fit wives and mothers of men" who are fully capable of enduring the forces and vagaries of nature alongside their men.

In 1883, Homer moved to Prout's Neck, Maine (in Scarborough) and lived at his family's estate in the remodeled carriage house just seventy-five feet from the ocean. During the rest of the mid-1880's, Homer painted his monumental sea scenes. InUndertow (1886), depicting the dramatic rescue of two female bathers by two male lifeguards, Homer's figures "have the weight and authority of classical figures". In Eight Bells (1886), two sailors carefully take their bearings on deck, calmly appraising their position and by extension, their relationship with the sea; they are confident in their seamanship but respectful of the forces before them. Other notable paintings among these dramatic struggle-with-nature images are Banks Fisherman, The Gulf Stream, Rum Cay, Mending the Nets, and Searchlight, Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba. Some of these he repeated as etchings.

Undertow: 1886

The dramatic confrontation of humankind and nature dominated Homer's work in the mid-1880's. In the nineteenth century women were rarely taught to swim, and near-drownings were common occurrences. Undertow was based on a rescue that Homer witnessed in Atlantic City, New Jersey, although he arrived at the composition through careful study and great deliberation.

Eight Bells: 1886

'Eight Bells', one of Homer's best-known paintings and the last of the series of great sea pictures that had commenced with 'The Life Line' three years earlier, was completed in 1886 but not shown until 1888. The title refers to the sounding of eight bells done at the hours of four, eight, and twelve a.m. and p.m. Two sailors dominate the foreground, but the details of the ship and its riggings have been minimized. In the etching above, one of his finest, Homer has de-emphasized the background rigging and sky even further to underscore the figures' monumentality.

Homer's depiction seems to transcend "mere realism" and reveal an element of heroism in the mundane activities of his protagonists. A contemporary critic noted that the artist "has caught the color and motion of the greenish waves, white-capped and rolling, the strength of the dark clouds broken with a rift of sunlight, and the sturdy, manly character of the sailors at the rail. In short, he has seen and told in a strong painter's manner what there was of beauty and interest in the scene."

The Gulf Stream: 1899

Rum Cay: 1898-99

Mending the Nets: 1881

In 1881 Winslow Homer began a series of watercolors based on life in the seaside fishing village of Cullercoats, England, where he stayed for almost two years. Unlike Homer's earlier watercolors, the Cullercoats works have a timeless quality that was earlier characteristic only of his oil paintings.

Although large steam trawlers had begun to replace smaller boats as fishing craft in Cullercoats, Homer preferred to focus on the old ways. In 'Mending the Nets', he conveys the idea of skills acquired through generations of families at work. Mending, along with dividing the catch and distributing the fish at market, occupied the fisherwomen's' time for most of the day.

The composition suggests Homer's familiarity with classical sculpture. The overlapping figures of the women create a compact group in a relatively shallow space, recalling relief sculpture such as the Parthenon friezes that Homer may have seen at the British Museum. The neutral background silhouettes the two figures starkly, emphasizing their strong sculptural quality. In this way, Homer presents these women at their daily tasks as timeless archetypes, imbued with a sober and noble simplicity.

Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba

At fifty years of age, Homer had become a "Yankee Robinson Crusoe, cloistered on his art island" and "a hermit with a brush". These paintings established Homer, as the New York Evening Post wrote, "in a place by himself as the most original and one of the strongest of American painters." But despite his critical recognition, Homer's work never achieved the popularity of traditional Salon pictures or of the flattering portraits by John Singer Sargent. Many of the sea pictures took years to sell and Undertow only earned him $400.

In these years, Homer received emotional sustenance primarily from his mother, brother Charles, and sister-in-law Martha ("Mattie"). After his mother's death, Homer became a "parent" for his aging but domineering father and Mattie became his closest female intimate. In the winters of 1884-5, Homer ventured to warmer locations in Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas, and did a series of watercolors as part of a commission for Century Magazine. He replaced the turbulent green storm-tossed sea of Proust's Neck with the sparkling blue skies of the Caribbean, and the hardy New Englanders with the leisurely Black natives, further expanding his watercolor technique, subject matter, and palette. His tropical stays inspired and refreshed him in much the same way as Paul Gauguin's trips to Tahiti. A Garden in Nassau (1885) is one of the best examples of these watercolors. Once again, his freshness and originality were praised by critics, but proved too advanced for the traditional art buyers and he "looked in vain for profits." Homer lived frugally, however, and fortunately, his affluent brother Charles provided financial help when needed.

A Garden in Nassau: 1885

Additionally, Homer found inspiration in a number of summer trips to the North Woods Club, near the hamlet of Minerva, New York in the Adirondack Mountains. It was on these fishing vacations that he experimented freely with the watercolor medium, producing works of the utmost vigor and subtlety, hymns to solitude, nature, and to outdoor life. Homer doesn't shrink from the savagery of blood sports nor the struggle for survival. The color effects are boldly and easily applied. In terms of quality and invention, Homer's achievements as a watercolorist are unparalleled: "Homer had used his singular vision and manner of painting to create a body of work that has not been matched."

In 1893, Homer painted one of his most famous "Darwinian" works, The Fox Hunt, which depicts a flock of starving crows descending on a fox slowed by deep snow. This was Homer's largest painting and it was immediately purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, his first painting in a major American museum collection. In Huntsman and Dogs (1891), a lone, impassive hunter, with his yelping dogs at his side, heads home after a hunt, with deer skins slung over his right shoulder. Another late work, The Gulf Stream (1899), shows a Black sailor adrift in a damaged boat, surrounded by sharks and an impending maelstrom.

The Fox Hunt: 1893

Huntsman and Dogs: 1891

By 1900, Homer finally reached financial stability, as his paintings fetched good prices from museums and he began to receive rents from real estate properties. He also became free of the responsibilities of caring for his father who had died two years earlier. Homer continued producing excellent watercolors, mostly on trips to Canada and the Caribbean. Other late works include seascapes absent of human figures, mostly of waves crashing against rocks in varying light. In his last decade, he at times followed the advice he gave a student artist in 1907, "Leave rocks for your old age-they're easy".

Homer died in 1910 at the age of 74 in his Prout's Neck studio and was interred in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His painting, Shooting the Rapids, Saguenay River, remains unfinished.

Shooting the Rapids: 1902

Fishing the Rapids - Saguenay: 1902

His Prout's Neck studio is now owned by the Portland Museum of Art.

Homer never taught in a school or privately, as did Thomas Eakins, but his works strongly influenced succeeding generations of American painters for their direct and energetic interpretation of man's stoic relationship to an often neutral and sometimes harsh wilderness. Robert Henri called Homer's work an "integrity of nature."

American illustrator and teacher Howard Pyle revered Homer and encouraged his students to study him. His student and fellow illustrator, N. C. Wyeth (and through him Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth), shared the influence and appreciation, even following Homer to Maine for inspiration. The elder Wyeth's respect for his antecedent was "intense and absolute," and can be observed in his early work Mowing (1907). Perhaps Homer's austere individualism is best captured in his admonition to artists:

"Look at nature, work independently, and solve your own problems."

A Brook Trout

A Game of Croquet: 1866

During the 1860's Homer undertook the earliest sustained treatment of croquet to appear in fine art. His interest in the game coincided with the appearance of illustrated rule books heralding the transfer of the game from England to the United States.

Contemporary commentators endorsed croquet as a socially approved physical activity for women, who had few other opportunities to exercise both body and mind in the open air, in public, and in mixed company. It could be played with equal facility by men and women, skill and ingenuity being much more important to success than mere physical strength. The young woman in blue is probably Homer's cousin Florence. The woman in red seems about to strike her own ball so that it hits another and gains her a point. The intended victim of the shot calmly adjusts her hat while waiting her turn.

Poem inspired by Winslow Homer
" Croquet Square"

As clicked and clacked
in an area of green grass
the croquet balls are clattered around
through silver rings of metal
by wooden sticks
with the ends looking of wooden cans
POP! the ball goes........
swish swish swish it continually rolls
until CLAT!
it is sprung off to the side of the metal ring
As the man of the game
suddenly peers at the sight of the stopped ball
trying to align the ball with its opponent
to clatter the two together as if again to repeat the process,
Dead stop!
the game is in a complete hault.
The women stand around
as not knowing what to do
gazing down at the man by their shoe
but before the man stands up
the ball stands up and cries
"please don't tap me just let me go!"

A Good One: 1889

A Good Shot - Adirondacks: 1892

A Quiet Pool on a Sunny Day: 1899

A Rainy Day in Camp
(aka Camp near Yorktown): 1871

Homer completed this painting his last major scene of life at the front, six years after the Civil War ended, using studies he had made during the siege of Yorktown in April and May 1862. The red cloverleaf above Homer's name on the first barrel on the left was the insignia of the First Division of the Second Corps of the Sixty-first New York Volunteer Infantry, the unit to which he was assigned. One critic remarked that the bedraggled mule at the right "tells the whole story" of the miserable conditions at Yorktown.

A Sloop at a Wharf Gloucester: ca 1880

A Summer Night: 1890

Winslow Homer started his career as a graphic reporter during the American Civil War, before going on to paint scenes of army life and the rural world with the Naturalist precision which then prevailed in American painting. After a stay in Paris, Homer used an Impressionist palette for a while then developed a personal style midway between Realism and Symbolism. 'Summer Night' perfectly expresses this synthesis and may be considered one of the first masterpieces of American art still in search of its identity.

This nocturnal scene by the sea transcends observed reality through a keen sense of poetry and mystery. The light and shade effects blur shapes, while the ghostly silhouettes of two women dance on the shore. Although it may well have been influenced by Courbet's Waves, the lyricism tinged with mysticism expressed by Homer helped develop a feeling for nature that is peculiarly American.

A Temperance Meeting aka Noon Time: 1876

A Voice from the Cliffs: 1883

Adirondack Lake: 1889

After the Hunt: 1892

After the Hurricane Bahamas: 1899

Along the Road Bahamas: 1885

Among the Vegetables
(aka Boy in a Cornfield): 1887

An Afterglow: 1883

An October Day: 1889

An enthusiastic sportsman, Homer often vacationed in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. There, in a space of twenty years, he executed approximately eighty-seven watercolors, of which An October Day is one of the best known hunting subjects. What appears at first glance to be a peaceful autumnal view is actually a scene of impending violence, as a swimming deer attempts to escape the hunter's boat.

Answering the Horn
(aka The Home Signal): 1889

Apple Picking
(aka Two Girls in Sunbonnets or in the Orchard): 1878

Artists Sketching in the White Mountains: 1868

At Tampa: 1886

At the Well: ca 1887

At the Window: 1872

Autumn: 1877

Autumn - Mountainville, New York: 1878

Beach Scene
(aka Children in the Surf): 1869

Beach Scene Cullercoats: 1881

Black Bass Florida: 1904

Boy and Girl on a Hillside: 1878

Boy Fishing: 1892

Boy in a Boatyard
(aka Boy with Barrels): 1873

Boys and Kitten: 1873

Boys Fishing - Gloucester Harbor: 1880

Boys in a Dory: 1880

Boys in a Dory: 1880

Boys in a Pasture: 1874

By the Shore: ca 1870

Canoe in the Rapids: 1897

Charles Savage Homer, Junior

Charles Savage Homer, Jr: 1880

Children on the Beach: 1881

Contraband: 1875

Crab Fishing: 1883

Dad's Coming! Published November 1, 1873

Dad's Coming! - 1873

Homer's early works, while mainly set outdoors, are almost all figure paintings. This was a conspicuous departure from the type of pure landscape that dominated nineteenth-century American art. Homer spent the summer of 1873 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he painted this family of a fisherman awaiting his return. The exuberance suggested by the title-first given when an engraving of the painting was published in Harper's Weekly in 1873-is tempered by the meditative air of the still, silhouetted figures. The mother faces away from the sea, while the young boy scans a horizon that yields no sign of an approaching boat. Instead of depicting a celebratory narrative of homecoming, Homer captures the more ambiguous moment of watching and waiting. He would have been acutely aware of this aspect of the lives of fishermen's families, for Gloucester experienced a significant loss of life due to tragedies at sea during his stay.

Daughter of the Coast Guard: 1881

Daughters of the Sea: 1883

Early Evening
(aka Sailors Take Warning): 1881-1907

Early Morning after a Storm at Sea: 1902

East Hampton Long Island: 1874

Fallen Deer: 1892

Fishergirls on Shore Tynemouth: 1884

Fisherman's Family
(aka The Lookout): 1881

Fisherwives: 1883

Art historians cite Homer's sojourn in Cullercoats as a turning point during which the artist moved away from an interest in individual human subjects toward the universal theme of Man versus Nature. Painted in 1883, shortly after his return to America, the Currier's 'Fishwives' is among the earliest works to reflect this major shift in Homer's outlook. Standing on a stony slab at the edge of a foaming sea, three sturdy fishwives look out over the waves in the direction of two ships struggling against the wind. Masses of blue-gray clouds scud across a bleak sky, and in the foreground, pools of sea spray reinforce the impression of wind, wet, and cold. Oblivious to the severity of the weather, the three women seem as hard as the rock on which they stand. Yet their insistent focus on the faraway ships suggests not merely their concern for their loved ones but the overarching human capacity for hope and endurance.

During his stay in Cullercoats, Homer devoted much of his efforts to watercolor. Formerly held to be a genteel and somewhat frivolous medium better suited to women and amateurs, watercolor began gaining ground among American painters, including Homer, during the 1870's. In his Cullercoats paintings, Homer became one of the first to test the limits of watercolor, creating works of depth and power that could hold their own alongside works done in oil on canvas. In 'Fishwives', Homer saturates the paper with masses of somber color, creating a bold image that stands in stark contrast to the delicately tinted flower studies and landscapes that were typically associated with the medium.

'Fishwives' was one of the many gifts of art that Homer presented to his brother Charles Savage Homer Jr. Since the artist's death in 1910, it has been recognized as an important work and has appeared in a number of significant exhibitions, including Homer memorial exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (both 1911), the Paris Exposition of 1923, and the Homer centennial exhibition of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1936. Most recently it was included in the major Homer retrospective staged by the National Gallery of Art in 1995-96. Following the death of Charles Homer's widow in 1937, Fishwives passed into the hands of relatives, from whom it was purchased by the Currier Museum of Art through the William Macbeth Gallery in 1938.

Fishing in the Adirondacks: 1889

For the Farmer's Boy - Old English Song: 1887

Fresh Air: 1878

Fresh Eggs: 1874

Fresh Eggs, 1874, is a watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon.

Homer often reused the same figures in different scenes. The girl in this work appeared previously in a drawing, an oil painting, and two watercolors. More generally, she is related to the many solitary figures of women that appear in Homer's work especially during the 1870's, including The Sick Chicken and Fresh Eggs.

Girl and Daisies: 1878

Girl in a Hammock: 1873

Girl in the Orchard: 1874

Girl Seated: 1879

Girl with a Hay Rake: 1878

Girl with Hay Rake, 1878, is a watercolor on paper, Gift of Ruth K. Henschel in memory of her husband, Charles R. Henschel to the NGA.

Homer spent several months during the summer and late fall of 1878 at Houghton Farm, the country residence of a patron in Mountainville, New York. There he created dozens of watercolors of farm girls and boys playing and pursuing various tasks, including 'Warm Afternoon'. Painted quickly and often outdoors, these watercolors present idyllic scenes of rural life that follow in the European tradition of pastoral painting.

Girls with Lobster
(aka A Fisherman's Daughter): 1873

Gloucester Harbor: 1873

Gloucester Harbor and Dory: 1880

Harrowing: 1879

High Cliff Coast of Maine: 1894

Homosassa River: 1904

Hound and Hunter: 1892

Sketch for "Hound and Hunter," 1892, is a watercolor on paper, Gift of Ruth K. Henschel in memory of her husband, Charles R. Henschel to the NGA.

Once in the lake, the deer would be clubbed, shot, or drowned easily by hunters in boats. In Sketch for "Hound and Hunter," a young boy struggles to secure a dead deer while also attending to his dog. It was an unusual subject that many found disturbing; critics mistakenly believed that the hunter here was struggling to drown a live deer when in fact, as Homer explained, the deer was already dead.

Houses on a Hill: 1879

In a Florida Jungle: 1886

In Charge of Baby: 1873

Kissing the Moon: 1904

Light on the Sea: 1897

Long Branch, New Jersey: 1869

Looking out to Sea: 1872

Looking over the Cliff: 1882

Man in a Punt Fishing: 1874

Moonlight: 1874

Morning Glories: 1873

On Guard: 1864

On the Cliff: 1881

On the Hill: 1878

On the Way to the Bahamas: 1885

Orange Tree Nassau
(aka Orange Trees and Gate): 1885

Osprey's Nest: 1902

Peach Blossoms: 1879

Peach Blossoms: 1878

Playing Him
(aka The North Woods): 1894

Portrait of a Lady: 1875

Promenade on the Beach: 1880

Quananiche Lake Saint John: 1897

Rest: 1885

Returning Fishing Boats: 1883

Rocky Coast and Gulls: 1869

Rowboat: 1880

Rowing at Prout's Neck: 1887

Sailing the Catboat: ca 1873

Salt Kettle Bermuda: 1899

In scenes of sun-drenched harbors and shores, Homer often left parts of the white paper exposed to give a sense of the brilliant atmosphere. He painted at least nineteen watercolors in Bermuda, a place he visited twice beginning in 1899. He believed them to be "as good work...as I ever did." They reveal-especially in their fluid washes-the consummate mastery of the medium that Homer had achieved by this point in his career. Homer generally preferred the blue skies and white clouds typical of the island's climate. Only occasionally, as in the remarkable 'The Coming Storm', did he portray ominous weather.

Shepherdess Tending Sheep: 1878

Shipbuilding at Gloucester: 1871

Homer often assembled his prints from diverse sources. In Ship-Building, Gloucester Harbor, he brought together from four different works, including two oil paintings, a drawing, and a watercolor of four boys, who appear in reverse. Children often gathered in the shipyard after school, to collect chips for kindling, build chip houses, observe the workmen, and to carve and rig miniature vessels. The text that accompanied the print in Harper's Weekly described the picture as "interesting not only as a work of art, but as a suggestion of the renewed enterprise and activity which are beginning to manifest themselves in American ship-yards. All along our immense line of coast may be seen indications which awaken the hope that America will soon resume her former supremacy in building ships."

Sparrow Hall: 1881-82

In March of 1881 the artist sailed from New York to London. He settled in the village of Cullercoats on the North Sea, just below the Scottish border. The tightly knit community consisted mainly of fishermen and their families. In this painting, several women are knitting or darning near the entrance to a seventeenth-century cottage called Sparrow Hall; on the steps, a girl protectively steadies a younger child who dangles a bit of blue yarn in front of a calico cat.

Such hearty, industrious women were a constant source of inspiration to Homer. During the year and a half he remained in Cullercoats, the artist produced some of his most lyrically beautiful work. Sparrow Hall, wonderfully conceived, brightly colored, and superbly painted, stands very high among those works and indeed among Homer's images from any period. This is one of the few finished oils produced in Cullercoats; most of his work abroad was done in watercolor. Homer's stay in Cullercoats marked a critical turning point in the artist's career; upon his return to the United States, his painting took on a newfound sense of gravity and monumentality that would characterize his mature style.

Sponge Fishing Nassau: 1885

Sunlight and Shadow: ca 1872

The Angler: 1874

The Berry Pickers: 1873

The Blue Boat: 1892

The Boatsman: 1891

The Brierwood Pipe: 1864

The Busy Bee: 1875

The Butterfly Girl: 1878

The Coral Divers: 1885

The Cotton Pickers: 1876

The Dinner Horn

In the late 1860's, Homer turned to life in rural and coastal America for his subject matter. His postwar work employs a brighter palette and freer brushwork, and shows his interest in the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere. The freshness of his touch is evident in the brilliant light and delicate coloration of 'The Dinner Horn' (Blowing the Horn at Seaside. The young woman sounding the call to dinner appears in several other paintings and relates to one of Homer's favorite motifs throughout the 1870's: the solitary female figure, often absorbed in thought or work.

The Farmyard Wall: 1873

The Fog Horn: 1883

The Fog Warning: 1885

Winslow Homer made his reputation in the 1860's with images of the Union troops during the Civil War and of the returning veterans afterward. In the late 1860's and 1870's he turned to lighter subject matter and found an equally enthusiastic audience for his paintings of healthy, handsome children playing in the country or at the seashore, and of adults enjoying leisure time pursuits. However, perhaps feeling the need for greater seriousness in his art, Homer spent 1881-82 in Cullercoats, England. Both a fishing village and an artists' colony, Cullercoats provided Homer with new, more profound themes: the arduous lives of fishermen and their families. Shortly after returning to the United States late in 1882, he settled in Prout's Neck, Maine, similarly both a fishing community and in summer a pleasant resort, where he painted the local population and their work. 'Fog Warning' is one of three paintings he produced at Prout's Neck in 1885 describing the lives of the North Atlantic fishermen.

Like many of his 1870's images featuring farm children, 'Fog Warning' is a story-telling picture. However, its story is disturbing rather than charming. As is indicated by the halibut in his dory, the fisherman in this picture has been successful. But the hardest task of the day, the return to the main ship, is still ahead of him. He turns to look at the horizon, measuring the distance to the mother ship, and to safety. The seas are choppy, and the dory rocks high on the waves, making it clear that the journey home will require considerable physical effort. But more threatening is the approaching fog bank, whose streamers echo-even mock-the fisherman's profile. Contemporary descriptions of the fishing industry in New England make clear that the protagonist's plight-the danger of losing sight of his vessel-was an all-too-familiar one.

The dramatic tension of 'Fog Warning' is all the greater because Homer does not specify the fisherman's fate. However, Homer's 'Lost on the Grand Banks', another painting in the series, shows that the fishermen's peril was a deadly one. An account from the 1876 history The Fisheries of Gloucester of the insidious horrors to which the fishermen were prey could well have served as a description of 'Fog Warning': "His frail boat rides like a shell upon the surface of the sea…a moment of carelessness or inattention, or a slight miscalculation, may cost him his life. And a greater foe than carelessness lies in wait for its prey. The stealthy fog enwraps him in its folds, blinds his vision, cuts off all marks to guide his course, and leaves him afloat in a measureless void."

The Fountains at Night
World's Columbian Exposition: 1893

The Gale: 1883-93

The Green Hill
(aka On the Hill): 1878

The Herring Net: 1885

The Houses of Parliament: 1881

The Last Furrow: 1878

The Life Line: 1884

Homer returned to New York in 1882 and faced the challenge of finding a theme as compelling as that which had occupied him in Cullercoats. Homer had almost always set up an emphatic juxtaposition between the role of women on the shore and that of the men on the sea. As the women determinedly went about their own business, confronted with the inexorable prospect of separation and loss, the men faced tangible physical peril in their constant battle with the elements. In the paintings (and subsequent graphic depictions) of the 1880's, Homer occasionally merged the two themes. The etching 'Saved', a powerful, highly classicized representation of heroic struggle is based on Homer's 1884 oil painting 'The Life Line'. The wet drapery clinging to the woman's solid form, the anonymity of the rescuer, whose face has been obscured by the scarf as wind and waves swirl about them, all help to convey the sense of physical and emotional exhaustion and the protagonist's heroic effort to triumph over nature's fury.

This remarkably fertile period in Homer's career brought him great critical acclaim. The 'Life Line' was an immediate success, but Homer's work held little commercial appeal. Its striking composition and strong dramatic mood did not match the prevailing aesthetic taste. After viewing Homer's work in a National Academy exhibition, one critic remarked that his paintings had a "rude vigor and grim force that is almost a tonic in the midst of the namby-pambyism of many of the other pictures on display."

The Lobster Pot: 1880

The Lookout "All's Well": 1896

The Milk Maid: 1878

The Milk Maid, 1878, watercolor over graphite on paper, Gift of Ruth K. Henschel in memory of her husband, Charles R. Henschel.

The size of this watercolor and its highly finished state suggest that Homer was attempting to create what English artists called "exhibition watercolors"-works that were intended to rival the aesthetic power and impact of oil paintings.

The New Novel
(aka Book): 1877

The Northeaster: 1883

The Pumpkin Patch: 1878

The Reaper: 1878

The Red Canoe

The Red Canoe: 1889

The Return of the Gleaner: 1867

The Sick Chicken: 1874

Homer had been working as an artist for nearly two decades when, in the words of one contemporary critic, he took "a sudden and desperate plunge into watercolor painting." Long the domain of amateur painters, watercolors had gained professional respectability in 1866 with the formation of the American Water Color Society. Homer recognized their potential for profit-for he could produce and sell them quickly-but he also liked the way watercolor allowed him to experiment more easily than oil.

He created his first series in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1873, and by the time he painted his last watercolor, in 1905, he had become the unrivaled master of the medium in America.

Some critics found fault in Homer's early watercolors for their apparent lack of finish and their commonplace subject matter. Yet Homer valued them from the start. He priced 'The Sick Chicken', a delicate work that demonstrates his early technique of filling in outlined forms with washes of color, at the steep price of one hundred dollars.

The Signal of Distress: 1890-96

The Sponge Diver: 1898-99

The Studio: 1867

Homer probably met de Kay through her brother Charles (1848-1935), who occupied Homer's studio in the University Building in New York City during 1867, when Homer was living in France. Her acquaintance with Homer must have dated to late 1867 or 1868 after the painter returned to New York City. She was then living in the family house on Staten Island but spent her days in Manhattan studying to become an artist at the Woman's Art School at Cooper Union, often in the company of her close friend Mary Hallock .

It is not certain when Homer's romantic interest in de Kay began to stir. He may already have had her on his mind in the summer of 1868 when he painted 'The Bridle Path' set in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. David Tatham has put forward a case for identifying the model as Martha Bennett Phelps of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Yet in 1873, Mary Hallock, then living in Milton in Ulster County, New York, wrote to de Kay saying that when her little nephew Gerald "looks at a photograph of 'The Bridle Path' he says 'Helena---ride--horseback.'--this is his own idea."

Portrait of Helena de Kay: 1871-72

The Bridle Path, White Mountains: 1868

The Trysting Place: 1875

The Turtle Pond: 1898

The Two Guides

Homer's rich palette and lively brushwork convincingly convey the splendor of the Adirondack Mountains in autumn. 'Two Guides' depicts a pair of well-known mountain guides from Keene Valley, New York, posing in front of Beaver Mountain. The painting can be interpreted as an older, wiser man passing on knowledge to the next generation.

The Veteran in a New Field
(aka buchet): 1865

The West Wind: 1891

The Whittling Boy: 1873

The Woodcutter: 1891

The Wreck: 1896

Winslow Homer can justifiably be considered the most distinguished American Realist of the nineteenth century. He is virtually alone among the artists of his generation in having been admired through every decade of the twentieth century. He continues to be remembered for the same large late paintings that brought him fame in his lifetime. These powerful canvases often present nature as detached or subtly hostile. Homer himself is frequently described in much the same terms: an aloof figure who guarded his privacy. The most populated of Homer's late works, The Wreck is one of his last and most dramatic interpretations of a rescue at sea, a theme he introduced into his painting in the 1880s. The source of this painting was a shipwreck that Homer witnessed in 1896 off Higgins Beach at Prout's Neck, Maine, near his friend Charles Jordan's farm. He made a quick thumbnail sketch of the lifeboat crew, which he enclosed in a letter to his brother Charles. At the same time, he began a painting from the incident. The Wreck is a catalogue of thematic elements that Homer had used in previous depictions of rescues at sea. Here, a lifeboat is being pulled in great haste by a crew of seamen across a high dune to the ocean's edge. Beyond the crest of the dune a lifeline has been set up. Several men and women look on, silhouetted against the sky, their clothing blowing in the wind. Except for one red scarf in the background, the coloring is restricted to shades of gray, tinted slightly with green and buff in the dunes and blue in the sea and sky. Homer sent The Wreck to the first "Carnegie International" in 1896. It won the Chronological Medal and a purchase prize of five thousand dollars. This award, unmatched by Carnegie Institute in subsequent years, was one of the most lucrative prizes bestowed upon any American artist of the time and was the highest price Homer received for a single work.

Three Boys in a Dory with Lobster Pots: 1875

To the Rescue: 1886

Two Men in a Canoe: 1895

Uncle Ned at Home: 1875

Under a Palm Tree: 1886

Waiting for the Boats: 1873

Weaning the Calf: 1875

At first glance, Homer's 'Weaning the Calf' seems simple enough: a reminiscence of an idyllic summer down on the farm. Though the artist frequently addresses themes of childhood in his art, his pictures generally avoid the cloying sentimentality common to other Victorian painters. In this painting, Homer pays close attention to the play of sunlight and shadow, endowing the scene with the heightened realism of a vivid memory. Such nostalgic visions were obviously escapist: they comforted Americans eager to forget four years of civil war as well as the disruptions of rapid industrialization. However, some scholars have suggested that Homer also intended other, more complex meanings. 'Weaning the Calf' is one among a remarkable group of pictures from the 1870's depicting African-Americans with an understanding and sympathy rare for the time. These paintings have been interpreted as a sustained meditation on the unsettled position of blacks in post-war American society. In this picture, the central image of a black boy in tattered clothes straining to separate a stubborn calf from its mother has been read as a visual metaphor for the painful weaning of African-Americans from slavery. Though intriguing, there is little evidence that Homer himself intended such a reading. His contemporaries certainly preferred to enjoy the picture simply as "a farmyard scene of a very spirited character. "

West Point Prout's Neck: 1900

Attracted to the force and power of the ocean, Homer returned to this motif throughout his career, no more so than in the last fifteen years of his life spent on the rugged coast of Prout's Neck, Maine. In this example he captured the effect of the setting sun as its light radiates from the horizon over the crashing waves and rocky shore. Although painted quickly, the picture was the result of many hours of careful observation of the landscape.

Where are the Boats?
(aka On the Cliffs): 1883

Watching From the Cliffs: 1881

Winslow Homer once told Charles R. Henschel of M. Knoedler and Company, a dealer who handled his work, "You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors." Today, Homer is generally recognized as the greatest American watercolorist, and this is the medium in which he made his most original contributions. One of the first to appreciate the significance of Homer's works of this type was John Beatty, who organized an exhibition for Carnegie Institute in 1917 of watercolors by both Homer and John Singer Sargent. Beatty particularly admired Homer's tropical scenes, which he once termed "the most amazing watercolors ever produced in this country." Curiously, however, the two watercolors by Homer that Beatty purchased for Carnegie Institute are relatively subdued in color and conservative in technique.

Although it is dated 1892, 'Watching from the Cliffs' does not relate to Homer's Adirondack and Florida watercolors of that period but returns to a subject dealt with in the watercolors made in England a decade earlier. Indeed, the central motif in this work, a woman with a child, occurs in an 1881 watercolor once owned by E. K. Warren. In that work the foreground was a grassy hillside with the same slope as in this one. The use of opaque white in 'Watching from the Cliffs' is highly unusual for Homer's work of the 1890's and is not generally found in his watercolors on white paper after the English period. The design also contains one odd inconsistency: the women's garments are shown swirling to the right, but the smoke from the house in the distance is shown blowing to the left.

Harvest Scene

Girl Reading on a Stone Porch

Winter Coast

Waverly Oaks

Source: Art Renewal Center

Source: Winslow Homer Online

This page is the work of Senex Magister

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