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  • Russ Ramsey

Winslow Homer's Sea

For today’s Art Wednesday we’ll be looking at seascapes from the 19th century American painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910). Homer, a self-taught painter, is best known for his maritime subject matter. These are great. Enjoy.

Winslow Homer, At High Sea, 1884


Winslow Homer, Gulf Stream, 1899. A Caribbean black man adrift on a rough, shark-infested sea in a rudderless boat with a broken mast. This is one of Homer’s best-known, and most dramatic works.

Winslow Homer, Gulf Stream, 1899


Winslow Homer, The Fog Warning, 1885. A man sits in a boat with two halibut, working the oars. The hard work of bringing in the fish is over, but now he must row home across a rough sea. He is racing the clock as a dense fog rolls in.

Winslow Homer, The Fog Warning, 1885


Winslow Homer, Northeaster, 1895. Here Homer shows the power of the sea during a northeaster in Maine. Though originally completed in 1895, Homer reworked this painting a bit in 1901. I always find it interesting when a painter takes a brush again to a work he finished years earlier.

Winslow Homer, Northeaster, 1895


Winslow Homer, Undertow, 1886. This painting is based on a rescue Homer witnessed in 1883, as two young women were being pulled under. Their rescuers, though strong in appearance, are no match for the sea.

Winslow Homer, Undertow, 1886


Winslow Homer, Lost on the Grand Banks, 1885. Two men, lost at sea, struggle to keep their boat afloat. Interesting historical fact: in 1998, Bill Gates reportedly purchased this painting for $30,000,000 – the most money ever paid for an American painting at that time.

Winslow Homer, Lost on the Grand Banks, 1885


Winslow Homer, The Herring Net, 1885. Homer lived in fishing villages along the east coast. This work depicts the bounty of the sea, and the work involved in claiming it. Homer dignifies the industry and difficulty of the fisherman’s work.

Winslow Homer, The Herring Net, 1885


Winslow Homer, Eight Bells, 1886. This is one of Homer’s best-known paintings. Two men use their octants to find the position of their ship. “Eight bells” refers to a way sailors marked time—one bell every thirty minutes. Eight bells marked noon.

Winslow Homer, Eight Bells, 1886


Winslow Homer, Breezing Up, 1876. Close inspection shows Homer reworked this one quite a bit. He removed a fourth passenger who sat near the mast. Homer often came back to rework his paintings, sometimes years later.

Winslow Homer, Breezing Up, 1876

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