Saturday, April 18, 2009
"Incoming Tide" by Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) one of the finest of the American artists. A landscape painter and printer, his primary subjects were of marine scenes, especially the ocean. He was raised outside of Boston - actually in Cambridge which was a rural area at the time. His father was a businessman and his mother an amateur watercolorist. He was apprenticed to a Boston commercial lithographer at the age of 19. This lasted about 2 years. He then went on to do free-lance illustration. This he did for nearly 20 years.
Most artists are known for working in only one medium - oils, watercolor, etc. Winslow was successful in a variety -wood engraving, oils, watercolor, etching. In 1861 Harper's magazine sent Homer to the front lines of the Civil War battles and for the next four years he produced sketches of battle scenes and camp life. He began doing paintings of some of his sketches. His painting Home, Sweet, Home(1863), drew critical acclaim and was sold quickly.As a result, he was elected an Associate Academician at the National Academy and became a full Academician in 1865. After the war he turned to scenes of childhood and young women, reflecting the country's longing for simpler times.
He spent the year 1867 in Paris. He did not do any formal study but practised painting landscapes, while at the same time he continued to do illustrations for Harper's.
In 1875 he quit working as an illustrator and decided to try and live on his earnings as a painter. In 1882 he moved to Prout's Neck, Maine, living just 75 feet from the ocean. Except for family members, he rarely saw people. After the death of his father, he began to travel at times, painting the warmer ocean of the Caribbean.
Incoming Tide was painted in 1883 at Scarboro, Maine. It is a watercolor on paper, as most of his seascapes are. It is one of Homer's first purely marine pictures, completely absent of any human figures. It depicts the elemental forces of nature, which became his primary inspiration in later years. A friend later recalled Homer's attraction to inclement weather: "[W]hen I knew him he was comparatively indifferent to the ordinary and peaceful aspects of the ocean....But when the lowering clouds gathered above the horizon, and tumultuous waves ran along the rockbound coast and up the shelving, precipitous rocks, his interest became intense." *
*from the website of the National Gallery
Go to the following link for a short video of the area near Homer's home
Breezing Up: A Fair Wind 1876
Home, Sweet, Home(1863)
The Coming Storm (1901)