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Seascape and Maritime Paintings by Winslow Homer

"The Gulf Stream" by Winslow Homer

Seascape and Maritime Paintings by Winslow Homer

“The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer

“The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer shows a lone man in a dismasted rudderless boat struggling against the waves of the sea. The marine theme was of interest to Homer for more than a decade as he often vacationed in Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean. 

Homer crossed the Gulf Stream many times, and his trips usually inspired several related works. A visit to Nassau and Florida preceded this painting and being the year after the death of his father. It may be revealing his sense of vulnerability.

The Gulf Stream

  • Title:                The Gulf Stream
  • Artist:              Winslow Homer
  • Year:                1899
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:  71.4 × 124.8 cm (28.1 × 49.1 in)
  • Museum:        Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

“The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer

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“The Fog Warning” by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer - The Fog Warning

“The Fog Warning” by Winslow Homer

“The Fog Warning” by Winslow Homer depicts a lone fisherman in a dory who has caught several halibut but now sees fog approaching, threatening to cut him off as he rows back to his ship.

He looks over his shoulder as he faces his most challenging task of the day, the return to the main ship. The choppy seas and the high waves show that the journey home will demand all his physical efforts. 

The scene is psychologically disturbing as the risk of being lost as a result of a sudden fog is very real.

The Fog Warning / Halibut Fishing

  • Title:                The Fog Warning / Halibut Fishing
  • Artist:              Winslow Homer
  • Year:                1885
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   76.8 × 123.1 cm (30.2 × 48.5 in)
  • Museum:        Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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“Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)” by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer - Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)

“Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)” by Winslow Homer

“Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)” by Winslow Homer is an iconic painting of a father and three boys out for a spirited sail.

Homer had a sensibility that allowed him to distill art from potentially sentimental subjects and to create straightforward views of the American life of the period.

Homer painted warm and appealing images that appealed to the postwar nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent America.

Following a trip to Europe in 1866–1867, Homer adopted a warmer palette and a technique, which owed much to the influence of French artists such as Courbet, Manet, and Monet.

Winslow Homer was best known for his marine subjects and is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America. Mostly self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator.

He subsequently took up oil painting and produced significant studio works. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a rich legacy, primarily chronicling his working vacations.

Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)

  • Title:                 Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
  • Artist:               Winslow Homer
  • Year:                 1873 – 1876
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:     Height: 61.5 cm (24.2″); Width: 97 cm (38.1″)
  • Museum:          National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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“Summer Squall” by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer Summer Squall

“Summer Squall” by Winslow Homer

“Summer Squall” by Winslow Homer depicts the foaming water violently surging over and around the flat rock in the foreground. During calm waters, this spot was one of the artist’s favorite fishing locations.

The sailboat in the distance dramatizes the human struggle with the forces of nature. A sudden storm that Homer could see from his studio at Prouts Neck, Maine inspired this painting

Summer Squall

  • Title:                  Summer Squall
  • Artist:                Winslow Homer
  • Year:                  1904
  • Medium:           Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:      Height: 61.6 cm (24.2″); Width: 76.8 cm (30.2″)
  • Museum:           Clark Art Institute

~~~

“The Life Line” by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer - The Life Line

“The Life Line” by Winslow Homer

“The Life Line” by Winslow Homer depicts the dramatic rescue from a foundering ship made possible by a recent innovation, the breeches buoy.

Secured to the ship and the shore, the device permitted the transfer of stranded passengers to safety utilizing a pulley.

The painting’s frame is cropped down to its essentials, and the composition focuses on the lifesaving action with massive waves that drench the semiconscious woman and her anonymous heroic savior.

Not shown in the composition are the two crew teams on either end, which hauled back and forth the pulley system. The return rope is shown slack in the ocean.

The Life Line

  • Title:                   Summer Squall
  • Artist:                 Winslow Homer
  • Year:                   1884
  • Medium:            Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:       Height: 72.7 cm (28.6″); Width: 113.7 cm (44.7″)
  • Museum:            Philadelphia Museum of Art

Homer, The Life Line

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“Summer Night” by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer - Summer Night

“Summer Night” by Winslow Homer

“Summer Night” by Winslow Homer depicts a nocturnal scene by the sea with a sense of poetry and mystery. The light and shade effects blur shapes, while two women dance on the shore.

Summer Night expresses this synthesis of Homers Paris experience and the early evolution of his signature style midway between Realism and Symbolism.

Summer Night

  • Title:                   Summer Night
  • Artist:                  Winslow Homer
  • Year:                   1890
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:       Height: 76.7 cm (30.1″); Width: 102 cm (40.1″)
  • Museum:            Musée d’Orsay

~~~

“Gloucester Harbor” by Winslow Homer

Seascape and Maritime Paintings by Winslow Homer

“Gloucester Harbor” by Winslow Homer

“Gloucester Harbor” by Winslow Homer depicts three figures in a rowboat, one rowing and two seated in the stern of the boat. The smaller figure has not been finished and is shown in the sketch form and outline.

Several sailboats are in the background, and beyond them, a strip of land is on the horizon. The sky is filled with pink clouds in a blue sky.

Gloucester Harbor

  • Title:                    Gloucester Harbor
  • Artist:                  Winslow Homer
  • Year:                   1873
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:        Height: 39.3 cm (15.5″); Width: 56.8 cm (22.3″)
  • Museum:            Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

~~~

“Sunlight on the Coast” by Winslow Homer

Seascape and Maritime Paintings by Winslow Homer

“Sunlight on the Coast” by Winslow Homer

“Sunlight on the Coast” by Winslow Homer depicts the sea’s power with stabs and dabs of his brush representing waves crashing against rocks.

Despite the title of this canvas, the sun is struggled to break through the storm. The focus is on the sea with its majestic force hitting the coast.

In 1883, Homer moved to Prouts Neck, Maine, and lived at his family’s estate in the remodeled carriage house seventy-five feet from the ocean. During the rest of the mid-1880s, Homer painted his monumental sea scenes.

Homer died in 1910 at the age of 74 in his Prouts Neck studio. Several of his paintings remained unfinished. His Prouts Neck studio, a National Historic Landmark, is now owned by the Portland Museum of Art, which offers tours.

Sunlight on the Coast

  • Title:                      Sunlight on the Coast
  • Artist:                    Winslow Homer
  • Year:                     1890
  • Medium:               Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:          Height: 76.9 cm (30.2″); Width: 123.3 cm (48.5″)
  • Museum:               Toledo Museum of Art

Notable Seascape and Maritime Paintings by Winslow Homer

  • Watching the Breakers – Gilcrease Museum
  • A Fresh Breeze – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Northeaster – Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Moonlight, Wood Island Light – Metropolitan Museum of Art

Winslow Homer’s long love affair with the sea

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910) was best known for his marine subjects and is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America. Mostly self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator.

Winslow Homer started his career as an art reporter during the American Civil War. After the war, the rural world which then prevailed in American painting.

After spending time in Paris, Homer experimented with his Impressionist style to develop his signature style midway between Realism and Symbolism.

Homer produced significant studio oil works, but he also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a rich legacy, primarily chronicling his working vacations.

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer, Summer Squall, 1904

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“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”  
– Vincent Van Gogh

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Photo Credit: 1) Winslow Homer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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