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Winslow Homer (1836–1910) 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.


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, where he sketched battle scenes and camp life.


After the war, Homer turned his attention primarily to scenes of childhood and young women, reflecting nostalgia for simpler times, both his own and the nation as a whole.


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.”


As a result of disappointments with women or from some other emotional turmoil, Homer became reclusive in the late 1870s, no longer enjoying urban social life and living instead in Gloucester. For a while, he even lived in secluded Eastern Point Lighthouse (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.


In 1883, Homer moved to Prouts 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-1880s, Homer painted his monumental sea scenes. In Undertow, 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, 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.


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 sporting scenes as well as 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 Prouts Neck studio and was interred in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His painting, Shooting the Rapids, Saguenay River, remains unfinished.


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Winslow Homer 1880.

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Breezing Up, 1873.

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The Reaper, 1878.

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Fog Warning, 1885.

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Dad’s Here!, 1873.

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