Winslow Homer – Presence of Nature

32052-WEB

WINSLOW HOMER

The Shepherdess

22 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.

oil on canvas

32498-WEB

WINSLOW HOMER

Towing the Boat

6 1/2 x 11 1/4 in.

watercolor and pencil on paper

32051-web

WINSLOW HOMER

The Busy Bee

10 x 9 1/4 in.

watercolor and gouache on paper

“…a hundred little accidental effects of sunshine and shadow that can be reproduced only in the immediate presence of Nature.” -Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer: Presence of Nature

One of the most influential and important artists, Winslow Homer was born in Boston in 1836. He is considered one of the greatest of American realists in the 19th century and although he never formerly learned or aligned with any of the major movements like the Barbizon School, his influence and recognition is widespread, and his process marked a turn away from the divinely infused works of earlier landscape artists.

This viewing room is a deep dive into one of Homer’s most important legacies and his strongest body of work – his watercolors and landscape paintings. While he started as an illustrator and depended on it heavily for his income, by 1875, he was able to make a living from his paintings.

Homer created these three works in the 1870s, a time in which he focused mainly on idyllic landscapes, images of children, and young adults in oils and watercolor. During this period, he became a member of The Tile Club, a group of artists that discussed ideas and organized painting excursions. Other members included William Merritt Chase.

Each of these works embodies quintessential Homer. For example, The Shepherdess was a theme he returned to multiple times as it allowed him to depict pastoral landscapes, grounded by young women. While beautiful, we can also sense the work and labor involved in the rural setting, the solitary figure set off by shades of green and dappled spots of reds and oranges.

But it is watercolor in which Homer has become known. His facility with the medium is evident in the other two works. There is precision in the colors and lines without hemming in the nature of watercolor to soak into the support. It is important to remember that Homer never received any formal training.

Like The Shepherdess, Towing the Boat and Busy Bee epitomize Homer’s vision of the American landscape, held fast visually by young women or children. Much like Rembrandt and other Old Master painters, Homer imbues his subject with emotional content and personality. The Busy Bee is among a series of works depicting the same model.  Another painting of the young boy, Taking a Sunflower to the Teacher, is in the Georgia Museum of Art.

The 1870s would be a crucial time for Homer as he stepped away from illustration into new experiments in form and medium. Between 1873-1905, Homer created nearly 700 watercolors. Nearly all of his works from the Reconstruction era South are in museum collections, testament to their importance. As Home himself noted, “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors.”

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“When you paint, try to put down exactly what you see. Whatever else you have to offer will come out anyway.” – Winslow Homer

Top Results at Auction

"The Red Canoe" (1889), watercolor, 13.7 x 20 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 1, 1999 for $4,842,000 USD
“The Red Canoe” (1889), watercolor, 13.7 x 20 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 1, 1999 for $4,842,000 USD
"Where are the Boats" (1883), watercolor and pencil on paper, 13.5 x 19.6 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 for $4,572,500 USD
“Where are the Boats” (1883), watercolor and pencil on paper, 13.5 x 19.6 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 for $4,572,500 USD
"Fishergirls Coiling Tackle" (1881), watercolor, 14 x 19.8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 for $4,521,000 USD
“Fishergirls Coiling Tackle” (1881), watercolor, 14 x 19.8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 for $4,521,000 USD
"Herring Fishing" (1894), watercolor, 13.8 x 19.5 in. Sold at auction on Thursday, November 29, 2007 for $3,065,000 USD
“Herring Fishing” (1894), watercolor, 13.8 x 19.5 in. Sold at auction on Thursday, November 29, 2007 for $3,065,000 USD
"In Charge of Baby" (1881), watercolor on paper, 8.5 x 13.5 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 for $2,650,000 USD
“In Charge of Baby” (1881), watercolor on paper, 8.5 x 13.5 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 for $2,650,000 USD
"The Coral Divers" (1885), watercolor, 13 x 20.7 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 2, 1998 for $2,642,500 USD
“The Coral Divers” (1885), watercolor, 13 x 20.7 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 2, 1998 for $2,642,500 USD
"Two Girls and a Boat, Tynemouth, England" (1881), watercolor, 13.6 x 20.5 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 2, 1998 for $2,532,500 USD
“Two Girls and a Boat, Tynemouth, England” (1881), watercolor, 13.6 x 20.5 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 2, 1998 for $2,532,500 USD
"Untitled" (n.d.), watercolor on paper, 10 x 8.3 in. Sold at auction on Monday, August 31, 2015 for $2,350,000 USD
“Untitled” (n.d.), watercolor on paper, 10 x 8.3 in. Sold at auction on Monday, August 31, 2015 for $2,350,000 USD
"Portrait of a Lady" (1875), watercolor, 12 x 8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 for $2,169,000 USD
“Portrait of a Lady” (1875), watercolor, 12 x 8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 for $2,169,000 USD
"Spring" (1878), watercolor and pencil, 14 x 19.8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 1, 2004 for $2,024,000 USD
“Spring” (1878), watercolor and pencil, 14 x 19.8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, December 1, 2004 for $2,024,000 USD
"Diamond Shoal" (1905), watercolor, 13.9 x 21.7 in. Sold at auction on Thursday, May 25, 1995 for $1,817,500 USD
“Diamond Shoal” (1905), watercolor, 13.9 x 21.7 in. Sold at auction on Thursday, May 25, 1995 for $1,817,500 USD
"The Summer Cloud" (1881), watercolor on paper, 13.5 x 19.8 in. Sold at auction onWednesday, November 18, 2015 for $1,810,000 USD
“The Summer Cloud” (1881), watercolor on paper, 13.5 x 19.8 in. Sold at auction onWednesday, November 18, 2015 for $1,810,000 USD
"Orange Trees and Gate" (1885), watercolor and pencil on paper, 14 x 20.5 in. Sold at auction on December 1, 2011 for $1,314,500 USD
“Orange Trees and Gate” (1885), watercolor and pencil on paper, 14 x 20.5 in. Sold at auction on December 1, 2011 for $1,314,500 USD
"Boating Boys in Gloucester" (1880), watercolor and pencil, 10 x 14 in. Sold at auction on Thursday, November 29, 2007 for $1,161,000 USD
“Boating Boys in Gloucester” (1880), watercolor and pencil, 10 x 14 in. Sold at auction on Thursday, November 29, 2007 for $1,161,000 USD
"Fishing "(1878), watercolor and gouache, 8.5 x 17.8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 for $1,128,000 USD
“Fishing “(1878), watercolor and gouache, 8.5 x 17.8 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 for $1,128,000 USD
"A Fish Story" (1875), charcoal and watercolor, 14 x 25.4 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 for $1,020,000 USD
“A Fish Story” (1875), charcoal and watercolor, 14 x 25.4 in. Sold at auction on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 for $1,020,000 USD

Paintings in Museum Collections

"Taking a Sunflower to Teacher" (1875), watercolor on paper, 7.6 x 6.1 in., Georgia Museum of Art
“Taking a Sunflower to Teacher” (1875), watercolor on paper, 7.6 x 6.1 in., Georgia Museum of Art
"Dressing for the Carnival" (1877), oil on canvas, 20 x 30 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Dressing for the Carnival” (1877), oil on canvas, 20 x 30 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art
"The Watermelon Boys" (1876), oil on canvas, 24.1 x 96.8 in., Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
“The Watermelon Boys” (1876), oil on canvas, 24.1 x 96.8 in., Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
"The Cotton Pickers" (1876), oil on canvas, 24 x 38 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art
“The Cotton Pickers” (1876), oil on canvas, 24 x 38 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art
"Spring" (1878), watercolor and pencil on paper, 11.25 x 8.75 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
“Spring” (1878), watercolor and pencil on paper, 11.25 x 8.75 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
"A Swell of the Ocean" (1883), watercolor over graphite, 15.25 x 17.65 in., Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
“A Swell of the Ocean” (1883), watercolor over graphite, 15.25 x 17.65 in., Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
"Fresh Air" (1878), watercolor, 20.1 x 14 in., Brooklyn Museum
“Fresh Air” (1878), watercolor, 20.1 x 14 in., Brooklyn Museum
"After the Hurricane, Bahamas" (1899), watercolor, 14.9 x 21.3 in., Art Institute of Chicago
“After the Hurricane, Bahamas” (1899), watercolor, 14.9 x 21.3 in., Art Institute of Chicago

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