Tag Archives: Visual arts of the United States

Today’s Birthday: Winslow Homer (1836)


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Today’s birthday:  Winslow Homer (1836)

A preeminent figure in American art, Homer was a largely self-taught landscape painter and printmaker. He trained as a lithographer, then became a freelance illustrator. As a correspondent for Harper’s Weekly, he won international acclaim for his depictions of the Civil War battlefront. In 1876, he abandoned illustration to devote himself to painting, later settling in coastal Maine, where the local people and seascapes became the focus of his art. What are some of his most famous works?

NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art: Winslow Homer ‘s Prisoners from the Front

Prisoners from the Front
1866
Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Oil on canvas; 24 x 38 in. (61 x 96.5 cm)

The material that Homer collected as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War provided the subjects for his first oil paintings. Homer had been an artist-correspondent for Harper’s weekly, contributing illustrations based on his observations of camp life.

In 1866, one year after the war ended and four years after he reputedly began to paint in oil, Homer completed this picture, a work that established his reputation. Exhibited in 1867 in Paris, it represents an actual scene from the war in which a Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (18341896) captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864 The fine, lithe figure of the general was modeled from another officer, lower in rank but more notable than Barlow in bearing and appearance, and to this figure the portrait head of the general was subsequently affixed. The differentiations in types and attitudes are consciously depicted with Homer’s unfailing sharpness of vision and passionate veracity.. The background depicts the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia. Infrared photography and numerous studies indicate that the painting underwent many changes in the course of completion. (From New York Museum Of Art)

I also like, among other paintings “Snap The Whip (1872) and “Girl and Laurel” (1879). I enjoy the force of the action,   the naturalism in  details, and the general composition, that give Homer’s paintings life.