On this day in 1836, the great painter Winslow Homer was born. He is one of those unfortunate artists who has been so copied that it is hard to see his work as fresh. But does it ever deserve to be seen with fresh eyes! He was such a brilliant painter — most especially regarding his seascapes — but really in all of his work. And it is interesting to see his work develop. In his twenties and thirties, I find his work somewhat stilted — still very much tied to his work as a commercial illustrator. But this is when he visits Paris and is inspired by some of the work being done by Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, and Manet. Slowly, his work becomes more fluid and realistic into his forties and fifties. And at its greatest in his sixties.
This is not the way the art world seems to look at Homer, however. They seem to think him at his best in his late thirties and early forties. And I’ll admit: it is fine work. Here is one I like from that period, Fresh Eggs:
But I much prefer The Fisher Girl from twenty years later. And it isn’t just this painting. His work during the 1890s is just exceptional.
Happy birthday Winslow Homer!