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Winslow Homer (1836-1910)

American painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in american art.
Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator.

He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium.

Winslow Homer was a painter of the first kind.
Even today, 150 years after his birth, one sees his echoes on half the magazine racks of America.

He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations.
Some major artists create popular stereotypes that last for decades; others never reach into popular culture at all.

Just as John James Audubon becomes, by dilution, the common duck stamp, so one detects the vestiges of Homer's watercolors in every outdoor-magazine cover that has a dead whitetail draped over a log or a largemouth bass, like an enraged Edward G. Robinson with fins, jumping from dark swamp water.

Homer was not, of course, the first "sporting artist" in America, but he was the undisputed master of the genre, and he brought to it both intense observation and a sense of identification with the landscape-just at the cultural moment when the religious Wilderness of the nineteenth century, the church of nature, was shifting into the secular Outdoors, the theater of manly enjoyment.


Homer never taught in a school or privately, as did Thomas Eakins, but his works strongly influenced succeeding generations of American painters for their direct and energetic interpretation of man's stoic relationship to an often neutral and sometimes harsh wilderness.
Robert Henri called Homer's work an "integrity of nature".

American illustrator and teacher Howard Pyle revered Homer and encouraged his students to study him.
His student and fellow illustrator, N. C. Wyeth (and through him Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth), shared the influence and appreciation, even following Homer to Maine for inspiration.

The elder Wyeth's respect for his antecedent was "intense and absolute" and can be observed in his early work Mowing (1907).
Perhaps Homer's austere individualism is best captured in his admonition to artists: "Look at nature, work independently, and solve your own problems".