Blog Post 5

Realism, Pre-Impressionism, & Pre-Raphaelites.

Winslow Homer (1836-1910). 

Homer began his journey into art with the encouragement of his mother, an amateur watercolour artist. During the American Civil War Homer captured everyday camp life during the battles unlike many who dealt with scenes of battle (fig.1 ). During the summer months he would travel away from his New York Studio and bask in nature where he would camp, hunt, and happily sketch. While his watercolour work had given him some recognition (fig. 2), his career began to kick-off when his central theme became the sea. In 1883, he returned to America with a new intensity in his art after a two year visit to Cullercoats, a remote fishing port in England, where he spent his time depicting the daily lives of women and the wives of the fishermen (figures 3 and 4). He spent most of his time in his studio in Prouts Neck after moving to the coast of Maine to seek absolute solitude. In a famous piece called Fog Warning, Homer portrays a  lone fisherman in the middle of the sea making his way back to his ship, and beautifully captures the eeriness and sense of urgency and vulnerability of the man. His later works were inspired by the struggle of people against the forces of the sea and nature (fig. 5); he then primarily focussed on the strength and beauty of the sea itself, rather than the lives of the seamen and women. His rough and textured brush work gives a sense of danger and action and brings his seascapes to life. Not only do I admire his textured brushwork and the contrast of his waves but also how he went from portraying conventional and poised women to strong willed and resilient women.

fig.1: Prisoners from the Front (c. 1866). Painting depicts real life Union officer who captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864
fig. 2: watercolour, “On the Stile”, c. 1878


fig. 3: “Watching the Breakers”, c. 1891
fig. 4: “A Fresh Breeze”, c. 1881







fig. 5: “The Fog Warning”, c. 1885. One of his most famous paintings.


fig. 6: “The Gulf Stream”, c. 1899, oil on canvas. Painted in Prouts Neck, Maine, after one of his visits to the Bahamas.



Gombrich, E.H.. The Story of Art. New York: Phaidon Press Inc, 1995.


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One thought on “Blog Post 5

  1. Susan,

    Good work on Gainsborough and Homer. Your research has really informed your thoughts and feelings about both artists. Personal insight is what I’m looking for here and you deliver. Keep it up.
    Just a reminder that Impressionism and Post Impressionism blog is now due as well.


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