Winslow Homer - High Cliff on the Maine Coast - 1894

Winslow Homer - High Cliff on the Maine Coast - 1894

Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910) was one of the greatest American artists of the nineteenth century.   His distinctly American vision has been compared to Walt Whitman’s and influenced Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth.  Homer worked as an illustrator for twenty years, before becoming a painter who focused on landscapes and on man’s struggle with nature.  He contributed illustrations of New England life to magazines such as Harper’s Weekly, and in 1859, he opened a studio in New York and attended classes at the National Academy of Design.  Harper’s sent Homer to the front lines of the American Civil War where he sketched battles and life on the front.  After the war in 1867 Homer traveled to Paris where he remained for a year.  Homer copied in the Louvre, painted en plein air and exhibited his picture Prisoners from the Front at the Exposition Universelle.

In 1883, Homer moved to Prouts Neck, Maine, and lived in isolation on his family’s property by the ocean.  There Homer painted his monumental sea scenes.  His work The Life Line (pictured) shows a dramatic rescue.  In his final works, however, Homer abandoned narrative.  He focused on the beauty and power of the sea itself.  Barbara Weinberg, curator of American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, explains: “In their dynamic compositions and richly textured passages, his late seascapes capture the look and feel (and even suggest the sound) of masses of onrushing and receding water. For Homer’s contemporaries, these were the most extravagantly admired of all his works. They remain among his most famous today, appreciated for their virtuoso brushwork, depth of feeling, and hints of modernist abstraction.”  Howard Pyle revered Homer as did his student N.C. Wyeth.  Wyeth even followed Homer to Maine for inspiration.  Homer’s influence can be clearly seen in the work of Andrew Wyeth, as well.

Winslow Homer - The Life Line - 1884

Winslow Homer - The Life Line - 1884