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biography of Winslow HOMER (1836-1910)

Birth place: Boston, MA

Death place: Prout's Neck, ME

Addresses: Prout's Neck, Scarboro, ME

Profession: Painter, illustrator, etcher

Studied: apprenticed to lithographer J.H. Bufford in Boston, 1855; studied painting briefly with Frédéric Rondel in NYC, 1861; drawing at the NAD

Exhibited: NAD, 1863-88; Brooklyn AA, 1864-82; Boston AC, 1877-1909; AIC; CI, 1896 (prize); PAFA, 1888, 1893-97, 1900-10 (gold 1902); Paris Expo, 1900; Pan-Am. Expo, 1901, Buffalo (gold); Charleston Expo, 1902 (gold); St. Louis Expo, 1904 (gold); Corcoran Gal., 1907-08.

Member: NA, 1865; AWCS, 1876; Century Assn.; NIAL.

Work: Most major museum collections, including NGA; NMAA; MMA; PMA; PAFA; BMFA; Brooklyn Mus.; Yale Univ. Art Gal.; WMAA; St. Louis AM; Clark AI, Williamstown, MA; Delaware AM; Denver AM; Butler IA; Shelburne (VT) Mus.

Comments: A major figure in American painting. Homer grew up in Cambridge, MA. At nineteen he began working for the lithographer, J.H. Bufford of Boston, designing sheet music covers. In 1857 he began his career as an illustrator, working for Ballou's Pictorial in Boston. By 1859, he was working for Harper's Weekly in NYC, a job that sent him to the front during the Civil War. Two years later he moved to NYC, continuing his connection with Harper's and taking up painting about 1861. His Prisoners from the Front," exhibited at the NAD in 1866, attracted much attention. After the war he painted many pictures of the lives of blacks; and a visit to the Adirondacks inspired his camping scenes with mountain guides. In 1866-67 he spent ten months in France and visited the Universal Exposition. On his return, he took a studio in the same NYC building as Eastman Johnson, and his work also began to show some reflection of his exposure to French Impressionism. After 1873, Homer devoted himself chiefly to watercolor painting, and became one of the greatest masters of this medium. After living among the fisherfolk of England from 1881-82, he settled at Prout's Neck, near Scarboro, ME, where he made his home for the rest of his life, except for frequent visits to Quebec and the Adirondacks in the summer and to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Florida in the winter. During his New York years, he was friendly with many artist-illustrators, but at Prout"s Neck he increasingly lived the life of a recluse, focusing on his watercolors and ignoring numerous awards and public acclaim. A number of his works were included in the Thomas B. Clarke sale in NYC in 1899, where his "Eight Bells" brought the highest price ($4,800).

Sources: G&W; the first major biographical studies were by W. H. Downes, The Life and Works of Winslow Homer (Boston, 1911) and Lloyd Goodrich Winslow Homer (New York, 1944). Additional sources: Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Winslow Homer (New York, 1990); John Wilmerding, Winslow Homer (New York, 1972); Peter Wood and Karen Dalton, Winslow Homer's Images of Blacks: The Civil War and Reconstructin Years (1988); Donelson F. Hoopes, Winslow Homer Watercolors (New York, 1969); Goodrich, American Watercolor and Winslow Homer; Philip Beam, Winslow Homer"s Magazine Engravings (1979); WW10; Falk, Exh. Record Series. Note: a catalogue raisonnÈ by Spanierman Gallery, NYC, was in progress as of 1999."

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