Winslow Homer – American 1836-1910

Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer (1836–1910) is regarded by many as the greatest American painter of the nineteenth century. Born in Boston and raised in rural Cambridge, he began his career as a commercial printmaker, first in Boston and then in New York, where he settled in 1859. He briefly studied oil painting in the spring of 1861. In October of the same year, he was sent to the front in Virginia as an artist-correspondent for the new illustrated journal, Harper's Weekly. Homer's earliest Civil War paintings, dating from about 1863, are anecdotal, like his prints. As the war drew to a close, however, such canvases as The Veteran in a New Field and Prisoners from the Front reflect a more profound understanding of the war's impact and meaning.

For Homer, the late 1860s and the 1870s were a time of artistic experimentation and prolific and varied output. He resided in New York City, making his living chiefly by designing magazine illustrations and building his reputation as a painter, but he found his subjects in the increasingly popular seaside resorts in Massachusetts and New Jersey, and in the Adirondacks, rural New York State, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Late in 1866, motivated probably by the chance to see two of his Civil War paintings at the Exposition Universelle, Homer had begun a ten-month sojourn in Paris and the French countryside. While there is little likelihood of influence from members of the French avant-garde, Homer shared their subject interests, their fascination with serial imagery, and their desire to incorporate into their works outdoor light, flat and simple forms (reinforced by their appreciation of Japanese design principles), and free brushwork.

Women at leisure and children at play or simply preoccupied by their own concerns were regular subjects for the artist in the 1870s. In addition to expanding his mastery of oil paint during that decade, Homer began to create watercolors, and their success enabled him to give up his work as a freelance illustrator by 1875. He had been in Virginia during the war, and he returned there at least once during the mid-1870s, apparently to observe and portray what had happened to the lives of former slaves during the first decade of Emancipation.

In the early 1880s, Homer came increasingly to desire solitude, and his art took on a new intensity. In 1881, he traveled to England on his second and final trip abroad. After passing briefly through London, he settled in Cullercoats, a village near Tynemouth on the North Sea, remaining there from the spring of 1881 to November 1882. He became sensitive to the strenuous and courageous lives of its inhabitants, particularly the women, whom he depicted hauling and cleaning fish, mending nets, and, most poignantly, standing at the water's edge, awaiting the return of their men. When the artist returned to New York, both he and his art were greatly changed.

In the summer of 1883, Homer moved from New York to Prout's Neck, Maine, a peninsula ten miles south of Portland. Except for vacation trips to the Adirondacks, Canada, Florida, and the Caribbean, where he produced dazzling watercolors, Homer lived at Prout's Neck until his death. He enjoyed isolation and was inspired by privacy and silence to paint the great themes of his career: the struggle of people against the sea and the relationship of fragile, transient human life to the timelessness of nature. In ambitious works of the 1880s, men challenge the ocean's power with their own strength and cunning or respond to the ocean's overwhelming force in scenes of dramatic rescue. By about 1890, however, Homer left narrative behind to concentrate on the beauty, force, and drama of the sea itself. In their dynamic compositions and richly textured passages, his late seascapes capture the look and feel (and even suggest the sound) of masses of onrushing and receding water. For Homer's contemporaries, these were the most extravagantly admired of all his works. They remain among his most famous today, appreciated for their virtuoso brushwork, depth of feeling, and hints of modernist abstraction.

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Winslow Homer Watercolors by Nicolai Cikovsky Jr. – Hardcover: 120 pages; Universe (Sep 3, 2013)

From the beautiful mountains and streams of Canada and the Adirondacks to the sandy beaches of New England, from the picturesque coasts of English villages to the sunny shores of the Bahamas, Winslow Homer captured in his paintings the true magnificence of nature. For more than thirty years between 1873 and 1905, Winslow Homer turned to watercolors during his working vacations, concentrating on capturing the spirit of each place he visited with both spontaneity and intensity.

Winslow Homer: Poet of the Sea by Sophie Lévy – Paperback: 152 pages; Terra Foundation For American Art; 1st edition (Jun 5, 2006)

This exhibition catalog organizes Homer’s sea-centered works by four periods that correspond to geographic locations: Gloucester, Massachusetts and other early East Coast seascapes; Cullercoats, England; Prout’s Neck in Maine; and notations from his trips to tropical regions such as the Bahamas and fishing retreats such as the Adirondacks in New York.

Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light by Martha Tedeschi, Kristi Dahm, Judith Walsh, Karen Huang – Hardcover: 228 pages; Art Institute of Chicago (Feb 26, 2008)

As editor and Art Institute of Chicago curator Tedeschi relates, the artist was obsessed with the ability to depict light properly in its limitless incarnations. Though he was accomplished in a variety of mediums, Homer found watercolors to be the most efficient for what Tedeschi calls "his dedicated examination of the relationship between color, light, and water."

Winslow Homer: An American Vision by Randall C. Griffin – Hardcover: 240 pages; Phaidon Press; 1st edition (Jul 1, 2006)

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was one of the most important American painters of the late nineteenth century. His prolific output, embracing a wide range of styles and themes, is characterized by uncompromising realism and a strong sense of graphic design, a legacy of his early years as a magazine illustrator.

Winslow Homer's Images of Blacks: The Civil War and Reconstruction Years by Peter H. Wood, Karen C. C. Dalton – Paperback: 144 pages; University of Texas Press; 1st edition (Jan 1989)

The text is well written--carefully researched but free of academic jargon--and the story it tells is compelling. Extraordinary for his time, Homer saw African Americans as people rather than second-class citizens or stereotypes, and he depicted them as such in his images from the Civil War and Reconstruction Years. Some of the paintings, such as the one in which the freed woman meets her former slave mistress at her cabin door, are quite haunting in their depth and sensitivity.

Winslow Homer and the Critics: Forging a National Art in the 1870s by Margaret Conrads – Hardcover: 264 pages; Princeton University Press (Mar 1, 2001)

When Winslow Homer settled at Prout's Neck, Maine, in 1883 at age 47, he was already a famous American artist. Winslow Homer and the Critics: Forging a National Art in the 1870s takes into account the painter's earlier decades in New York, which featured a 15-year stint beginning in 1857 as an illustrator for Harper's Weekly. An explosion in art interest and art writing after the Civil War and a plethora of new influences from Europe converged in and around Homer's work, argues Margaret C. Conrads, a curator at Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum. With 97 color plates, 58 b&w illus. and generous quotations from period literature, Conrads reconstructs a heady climate of artistic possibility and achievement. —Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Winslow Homer: His Art, His Light, His Landscapes by Carl Little, Arnold Skolnick (Editor) – Hardcover: 180 pages; 1st Glance Books (Aug 1997)

Winslow Homer and the Illustrated Book by David Tatham – Hardcover: 348 pages; Syracuse University Press; 1st edition (Feb 1992)

Tatham's book is an important contribution both to the history of the book and to Winslow Homer scholarship. Very well illustrated with more than 170 plates, the volume unveils a largely unknown corpus of work

Winslow Homer: Paintings of the Civil War by Marc Simpson, Nicolai, Jr. Cikovsky, Lucretia Hoover Giese – Paperback reprint edition (Sep 1989) COFAM / DeYoung Memorial Museum

Winslow Homer, an "artist-correspondent" during the Civil War, is well known for his drawings of everyday life in camp and on the battlefield, but his oil paintings on this subject have not received much attention. The riveting essays in this exhibition catalog, which also serves as a monograph, cover Homer's technique, the historical background and symbolism of the paintings, and period criticism. Over 20 paintings are given thorough catalog entries and represented by rich color plates. This handsome art book accomplishes what few do: it satisfies a variety of audiences, from amateur to scholar, American art historian to military buff. Highly recommended. —Kathleen Eagen Johnson, Historic Hudson Valley, Tarrytown, N.Y.Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Winslow Homer Watercolors by Donelson F. Hoopes – Paperback: 88 pages; Watson-Guptill; Reissue edition (Nov 1984)

Donelson F. Hoopes devotes a beautiful volume exclusively to the most popular of all American watercolorists. Published in cooperation with The Brooklyn Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the book includes virtually the entire Winslow Homer collection of both museums.

Winslow Homer and the Sea by Carl Little – Paperback: 80 pages; Pomegranate (Oct 1995)

Fine color reproduction (in a 10x8" format) of 33 paintings. Annotation © by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Winslow Homer (Library of American Art Series) by Nicolai Jr. Cikovsky – Hardcover: 156 pages; Harry N. Abrams (Jun 1990)

Winslow Homer, whose work is featured on the cover of this catalog, was the greatest American painter of the 19th century. His subjects are touchingly familiar: the Civil War soldier, the country school, the emancipated slave. This volume includes a broad selection of his paintings and watercolors, each profoundly symbolic of the main currents of American life from the Civil War to th e turn of the century. 103 illustrations, including 52 plates in full color.

Winslow Homer: His Palette by Arron Adams – Paperback: 36 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (Jun 13, 2016)

Homer was an artist of power and individuality whose images are metaphors for the relationship of Man and Nature. A careful observer of visual reality, he was at the same time alive to the purely physical properties of pigment and colour, of line and form, and of the patterns they create. His work is characterized by bold, fluid brushwork, strong draughtsmanship and composition, and particularly by a lack of sentimentality. Although Homer excelled above all as a watercolorist, his oils and watercolours alike are characterized by directness, realism, objectivity, and splendid colour. His powerful and dramatic interpretations of the sea in watercolour have never been surpassed and hold a unique place in American art.

The Watercolors of Winslow Homer by Miles Unger, Winslow Homer, Arnold Skolnick (Editor) – Hardcover: 224 pages; W. W. Norton & Company (Sep 1, 2001) Best Seller

Winslow Homer's watercolors rank among the greatest pictorial legacies of this country. Winslow Homer's first medium was oil painting, although to make ends meet, he did commercial illustration and chronicled the New York City social scene.

Eventually, Homer withdrew from city life altogether to settle at Prout's Neck on the rocky New England coast. There he turned to watercolor, in part for financial reasons (watercolors were easier to sell), but the newly popular medium also enabled him to capture his impressions of scenery and landscapes encountered during his many travels with an immediacy and directness impossible in the more time-consuming oils.

Of his more than 700 watercolors, over 140 are reproduced here, dating from the 1870s to the turn of the century and ranging from pastoral to narrative, dramatic to serene. Miles Unger's text provides insight into the artist's technical mastery of the medium and discusses the importance of Homer's watercolors within the larger body of his work. 140 color illustrations.

Winslow Homer: The Clark Collection by Marc Simpson – Hardcover: 240 pages; Clark Art Institute (Jul 28, 2013)

While most well-known for his oil paintings of Civil War scenes and the windswept Atlantic coastline, Homer’s oeuvre encompasses a variety of themes, ranging from childhood games through the life-and-death struggles of man and nature.

Winslow Homer by Kate F. Jennings – Hardcover: 112 pages; JG Press (Feb 1, 2008)

Winslow Homer is considered among the greatest American artists of the nineteenth century. This book examines the immensity of Homer's artistic accomplishments, focusing not only on his masterpieces in various media but also on the suites of works on the same subject that reflect the artist's essentially modern practices of thinking and working serially and thematically.

Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation by Elizabeth Johns – Hardcover: 256 pages; University of California Press (Nov 4, 2002)

With close analysis of Homer's art and of the personal challenges he faced throughout his life, Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation is the most comprehensive study to date of the relationship between the artist's work and the psychological stages of his life.

Winslow Homer: Artist and Angler by Patricia Junker, Sarah Burns – Paperback: 240 pages; Thames & Hudson (Sep 1, 2005)

This volume takes a narrower look, by focusing on the place of fish and fishing in Homer's life and work. Junker is curator of paintings and sculpture at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and Burns is a professor of fine arts at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine by Thomas Andrew Denenberg, Tim Bolton, James F. O'Gorman, Erica E. Hirshler, Marc Simpson – Hardcover: 184 pages; Yale University Press; 1st edition (Dec 11, 2012)

In 1883, American artist Winslow Homer (1836–1910) moved his studio from New York City to Prouts Neck, a slip of coastline just south of Portland, Maine. Here, over the course of twenty-five years, Homer produced his most celebrated and emotionally powerful paintings, which often depicted the dramatic views and storm-strewn skies around his home.

Winslow Homer in the Adirondacks by David Tatham – Hardcover: 158 pages; Syracuse University Press; 1st edition (Jun 1996)

This 1996 winner of the John Ben Snow Prize includes color and black and white reproductions of over 100 oils, drawings, prints, and watercolors from the artist's many visits to the region between 1870 and 1910. Tatham casts Homer's early Adirondack works as postbellum pastorals and explores the impact of Darwinian thought on Homer's later works. He examines the concepts of landscape and wilderness, the development of the Adirondack park, and the forest preservation movement.

Winslow Homer by Nicolai Cikovsky, Franklin Kelly, National Gallery of Art, Charles Brock, Judith Walsh – Hardcover; National Gallery of Art (Nov 1995)

This book discusses and reproduces more than two hundred paintings, watercolors, and drawings that span Winslow Homer`s career, focusing not only on Homer`s masterpieces in various media but also on the suites of works on the same subject that reflect the artist`s essentially modern practice of thinking and working serially and thematically.

Winslow Homer Watercolors by Helen A. Cooper – Paperback Reprint edition (Sep 1987) Yale University Press

Winslow Homer was a successful illustrator in his 30s when the American Society of Painters in Watercolor held a landmark international show in New York City. It gave him the impetus to produce prolifically in this medium, and to take the text of his art from American farms and sea towns to the coast of England, from the Bahamas to Key West. Watercolor gave his oil paintings their sense of sunlight and freshness and a greater evocation of movement. Highlights of Homer's long career in watercolor are shown in 132 luminous color plates. The informed text was written by a curator of the Yale University Art Gallery. Published in conjunction with an exhibition now touring the United States, this first major survey of Homer's watercolors is recommended for art libraries and general collections. Hara L. Seltzer, NYPL © 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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