Homer, Winslow

Homer, Winslow

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, his work winning international acclaim. 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.

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.).

See biographies by P. C. Beam (1966), J. Wilmerding (1972), and M. Judge (1986); studies by L. Goodrich (1968 and 1972); 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).

(born Feb. 24, 1836, Boston, Mass., U.S.—died Sept. 29, 1910, Prouts Neck, Maine) U.S. painter. He served an apprenticeship with a Boston lithographer, then became a freelance illustrator in New York City. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1860 and was elected a member in 1865. During a stay in France in 1866, he was attracted to French naturalism and Japanese prints, but they had little effect on his generally bright and happy work. He became a master of watercolour and his ability as an oil painter matured; he focused increasingly on solitary, withdrawn figures. He spent 1881–82 in the English village of Tynemouth, on the North Sea, where the coastal atmosphere, the sea, and the stoic people are the subjects of some of his most powerful images. In 1883 he moved permanently to Prouts Neck, and his dominant theme became the sea and the endless struggle against an uncaring nature. In his later years he continued to paint vigorously and in near-total isolation. Though he was recognized in his lifetime as a leading U.S. painter, appreciation of his enormous achievement came only after his death.

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  • Winslow Homer, painter and landscape artistFictional
  • The Winslow, a character in a series of science-fiction comics
  • The Winslow family, part of the characters in the popular sit-com Family Matters

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