(24 February 1836 - 29 September 1910)
Born in Boston, he was devoted to art from his childhood. At the age of nineteen he entered the employment of a lithographer in Boston where he remained until he was twenty-one. In 1859 he settled in New York, studying in the schools of the National Academy and under F. Rondel. He has furnished book and newspaper illustrations for the Harpers and other publishers. At the outbreak of the Civil War he went to Washington, D. C, sending war-pictures to Harper's Weekly. His first works in oil were painted about this time, including
He went to Europe in 1867 or 1868, making a brief stay. He was elected an Associate of the National Academy in 1864, and Academician the following year. He is a member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colors, contributing regularly to its exhibitions, and to the annual exhibitions of the National Academy. Among Homer's works are,
"Homer's "Prisoners from the Front,"
The expression of the figures is intense, full of meaning, and the tenacity of his grasp upon the essential points of character and natural fact is very decided. No recent work of this artist has equaled the remarkable excellence of his celebrated "Prisoners from the Front," an incident of the late war, which is a unique work in American art; but all his pictures have the merit of genuine motive and aim. They are often bold and crude in treatment, and unskillful in technical method, while breadth is sometimes attained by the sacrifice of essential details which greater maturity of power would supply without loss to the former, for true breadth is not vacuity. It contains the sense of fullness, if not the actual facts of detail. But that this artist evinces unique power and originality the slightest of his works amply testities, and his aim is a sincere and true one." -- Prof. Weib's Official Report of the Amcricun Centennial Exhibition of 1876.
Artists of the Nineteenth Century & their Works; Biographical Sketches. By Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.
In Watercolors by Winslow Homer Martha Tedeschi writes: "Travel compelled him to see and paint new environments, to shift his color palette, and to expand his range of subjects; in many ways it became his ongoing education, a way to expand himself as an artist and to realize his themes in new circumstances." "There's no question that one of the principle themes of Homer's career was nostalgia and the way it related to the American landscape.
While his style and choice of subject were markedly different from the Hudson River School artists, his belief that nature was "elemental" and at the "heart of American culture," as Theodore Stebbins writes, "puts him squarely in line with their beliefs in the role of art." That said, the heightened spiritual component and monumental scale of the more operatic Hudson River School paintings did not apply to Homer's presentation of nature. Instead his observations yielded quiet, even humble, depictions of the landscape or sunny, idyllic views that harkened back to a simpler time.
Homer first visited Gloucester, Massachusetts in the summer of 1873. He returned in 1880 to work in the quiet seclusion of Ten Pound Island, a tiny islet in Gloucester Harbor. The town had become a popular tourist destination by 1880, but Homer eschewed the bustle of the crowds and rented a room away from the center of town. This isolation had a positive impact on his artistic output and allowed him to experiment and further develop his watercolor technique.
View painter's art: Winslow Homer (1836-1910)