Winslow Homer

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Homer, Winslow,

1836–1910, American landscape, marine, and genre painter. Homer was born in Boston, where he later worked as a lithographer and illustrator. In 1861 he was sent to the Civil War battlefront as correspondent for Harper's Weekly, and his magazine drawings won international acclaim. Homer also created many affecting paintings depicting life at the Union front and elsewhere during the Civil War. Many of his studies of everyday life, such as Snap the Whip (1872, Metropolitan Mus.), date from the postwar period, during which he was a popular magazine illustrator. In 1876, Homer abandoned illustration to devote himself to painting. He found his inspiration in the American scene and, eventually, in the sea, which he painted at Prouts Neck, Maine, in the summer and in Key West, Fla., or the Bahamas in the winter. After 1884 he lived the life of a recluse, leaving his home in Manhattan, and making Prouts Neck his base.

Although Homer excelled above all as a watercolorist, his oils and watercolors alike are characterized by directness, realism, objectivity, and splendid color. His powerful and dramatic interpretations of the sea in watercolor have never been surpassed and hold a unique place in American art. They are in leading museums throughout the United States. Characteristic watercolors are Breaking Storm and Maine Coast (both: Art Inst. of Chicago) and The Hurricane (Metropolitan Mus.). Characteristic oils include The Gulf Stream (1899) and Moonlight—Wood's Island Light (both: Metropolitan Mus.) and Eight Bells (1886; Addison Gall., Andover, Mass.). Homer's Prouts Neck studio was purchased (2006) by the Portland Museum of Art, restored, and opened to the public in 2012.


See biographies by P. C. Beam (1966), J. Wilmerding (1972), and M. Judge (1986); studies by L. Goodrich (1968 and 1972) and P. H. Wood (2011); B. Gelman, ed., The Wood Engravings of Winslow Homer (1969); studies of his watercolors by D. Hoopes (1969), P. C. Beam (1983), H. A. Cooper (1987), M. Unger (2001), and R. C. Griffin (2006).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Homer, Winslow


Born Feb. 24, 1836, in Boston; died Sept. 29, 1910, in Prouts Neck, Me. American painter and graphic artist.

Homer worked as a lithographer from 1854 and as a magazine illustrator from 1857 to 1874. He was a pictorial reporter during the Civil War (1861–65) and began painting in 1862. He visited France in 1866–67 and Britain in 1881–82. Homer developed his abilities as a painter on his own by studying the works of American and French realist painters. His painting Prisoners From the Front (1866, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), which combines documentary accuracy with brilliant psychological characterization of the soldiers of the two armies, is an early example of his work revealing his distinctive gifts as a realist painter. Later, Homer painted mainly pictures from the life of the common people of America: farmers, hunters, and seamen; many of his pictures are devoted to the life of the Negroes.

In portraying large figures against the background of American landscapes and through the use of rich colors, Homer emphasized the noble courage, simplicity, harmony with nature, and in-dustriousness of his heroes. He progressed from somewhat idyllic rural scenes (The Dinner Horn, 1873, Detroit Institute of Arts,) to the dramatic portrayal of man’s struggle with nature (Huntsman and Dogs, 1891, Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Gulf Stream, 1899, Metropolitan Museum of Art).


Goodrich, L. Winslow Homer. New York, 1959.
Gould, J. Winslow Homer: A Portrait. New York, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Homer, Winslow

(1836–1910) painter; born in Boston, Mass. Largely self-taught, he began his career as a lithographer and then became an illustrator for popular magazines. Harper's Weekly sent him periodically to cover the Civil War (1861–65), and the resulting drawings and paintings revealed his draftmanship, realism, and unsentimental approach to his subjects, as seen in Prisoners from the Front (1866). His early genre work, such as Snap the Whip (1872), ensured his popularity, and he spent more time on his own work. By 1875 he was using water color, his primary medium, as a method of quickly capturing a dramatic moment in nature. He traveled often, producing many fine works as a result of his journeys to such places as Bermuda, Florida, and Petersburg, Virginia. His series of paintings of African-Americans, such as the well-known The Cotton Pickers (1876), and The Carnival (1877), exhibit his superb design capabilities and a striking use of paint. After traveling to England (1881–82), he settled at Prouts Neck, Maine, in 1883 and the sea and the men and women who lived near the shore became the main focus of his art. He began a series of oils and water colors that built his reputation as a major artist. His seascapes, such as Northeaster (1895) and Early Morning after a Storm at Sea (1902), reveal the vitality and power of his genius.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Fred Schroeder also attributes the origination of the popular little red schoolhouse image to Winslow Homer's schoolhouse paintings.
When Winslow Homer painted A Visit from the Old Mistress in 1876 he may have been more influenced by popular culture than scholars have previously acknowledged (Fig.
Wood Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream.
As he puts it, he didn't want the book to become, too lubberly, and he succeeds, even down to the moody cover illustration, taken from On A Lee Shore, a painting by the great 19th century artist Winslow Homer.
She's looking for a painting, a Winslow Homer, an inheritance from her grandfather that will help her escape the series of dead-end jobs and relationships she is locked in.
AFTER TRAVELING TO VIRGINIA DURING THE Civil War as a field illustrator for the New York journal Harper's Weekly, Winslow Homer returned to this area toward the end of the Reconstruction period to paint primarily around Richmond and Petersburg (1) Having abandoned his career as illustrator to devote himself exclusively to painting, Homer sketched outdoors near the shanties in black neighborhoods and wandered among the fields to find inspiration for several images of Southern black life that included his 1876 painting, The Cotton Pickers (Fig.
In the end, Hurlin himself poignantly assumed the pose of a young boy running across a field in "Snap the Whip," the painting by Winslow Homer.
Referring to newspaper stories reporting that Gates had just bought a Winslow Homer painting for $30 million, Hindery said, "That's the world Bill Gates lives in.
In that same decade Winslow Homer became a magazine illustrator, and Horatio Greenough developed more functional architecture.
This morning, before setting out into the badlands with a dozen little sheets of heavy watercolor paper, I opened a book to study Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and Edward Hopper, three of America's master watercolorists.
I got lost in the dreams of Chagall, in the summer laziness of Monet, in the waves of Winslow Homer, in the blood and passion of Orozco, in the bright, simple designs of Rivera, in the fury of Jackson Pollock, in the struggle of de Kooning in the selflessness of Vermeer, in the light and shadow of Rembrandt, in the plushness of Rubens, in the fantastic mystery of Bosch in the power of Michelangelo and Tintoretto, in the incredible sensitivity and intelligence of Leonardo da Vinci in the earthly dramas of Daumier and Millet (Later on, when I discovered African-American art, I got equally caught up in the works of Jacob Lawrence, Archibald Motley, Henry Tanner, Edward Bannister, and others.
Winslow Homer's Prisoners from the Front presented a series of paintings depicting the plight of men at the front during the Civil War.