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Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place

June 5 - September 6, 2010

 

The Portland Museum of Art is presenting Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place, on view June 5 through September 6, 2010. In honor of the centennial of Homer's death in September, this exhibition showcases 28 works from the Museum's collection of Homer watercolors, oils on canvas, and illustrations. Based upon the extraordinary gift of 17 works by Charles Shipman Payson to the Museum in 1976, the exhibition features paintings understood to be national treasures, such as Artists Sketching in the White Mountains (1868) and Weatherbeaten (1894), as well as The Sharpshooter (1862), Homer's first oil painting and the gift of Bernard and Barbro Osher. This is the first time since 1988 that all of these works are on view together in the Charles Shipman Payson Building, due to their sensitivity to light. (right: Winslow Homer (United States, 1836-1910), Weatherbeaten, 1894, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 48 3/8 inches. Portland Museum of Art. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.1. Photo courtesy of meyersphoto.com.)

The relationship between Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and the Portland Museum of Art is long-standing and intimate. Homer exhibited at the Museum in his lifetime, and in the course of the 20th century, the Museum has become a symbolic home for the artist with the recent purchase of his studio. Long understood to be one of the most important painters in the history of American art, Winslow Homer lived in an age when the United States grew from a young country of small towns to modern industrial nation. Throughout his career as a graphic artist, genre painter, and chronicler of the rugged Maine coast, Homer provided his clients with images that helped create a sense of place in this era of rapid change and growth.

In 2006, the Museum purchased the Winslow Homer Studio in Prouts Neck, Maine, 12 miles from the Museum, and is currently involved in a major conservation and restoration project at that storied site. The Museum plans to open the Studio to the public in September of 2012.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum has created a ground-breaking online resource for the study of Winslow Homer's illustrations. Located on the Museum's website, www.portlandmuseum.org, this resource provides searchable and zoomable access to 250 illustrations. These illustrations are part of a gift of  more than 450 Homer illustrations given to the Museum by Peggy and Harold Osher in 1991, a nearly comprehensive collection of Homer's graphic work.  A computer station is also available in the exhibition to allow visitors to view these works. This project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maine Humanities Council.

Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place is organized by Chief Curator Thomas Denenberg and is accompanied by a catalogue written by Denenberg and designed by Portland-based graphic artist Daniel Pepice. The hardcover catalogue will be available in the Museum Store. 

 

 

(above: Winslow Homer (United States, 1836-1910), Artists Sketching in the White Mountains, 1868, oil on panel, 9 1/2 x 15 7/8 inches. Portland Museum of Art. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.4. Photo courtesy of meyersphoto.com.)

 

 To view wall labels for objects in the exhibition please click here.

 

Checklist 

 
All works by Winslow Homer (United States, 1836-1910)
 
All works courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art. All photos courtesy of meyersphoto.com.
 
 
1. An Unexpected Catch, 1890, watercolor on paper, 11 1/2 x 19 3/4 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.9. 
 
2. after Winslow Homer, The Artist in the Country from Appletons' Journal, June 19, 1869, wood engraving on wove paper, 11 1/16 x 7 5/8 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.96. 
 
3. Artists Sketching in the White Mountains, 1868, oil on panel, 9 1/2 x 15 7/8 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.4. 
 
4. The Breakwater, Cullercoats, 1882, watercolor on ivory wove paper, 13 1/4 x 19 3/4 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.16. 
 
5. Bringing in the Nets, 1887, watercolor on paper, 13 3/4 x 21 1/4 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.14. 
 
6. Boy in a Boatyard, 1873, watercolor and gouache over graphite on off-white wove paper, 7 1/2 x 13 5/8 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.5. 
 
7. after Winslow Homer, The Coolest Spot in New England-Summit of Mount Washington from Harper's Weekly, July 23, 1870, wood engraving on wove paper, 13 3/4 x 9 1/8 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.105. 
 
8. after Winslow Homer, The Fishing Party from Appletons' Journal, October 2, 1869, wood engraving on wove paper, 10 13/16 x 15 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.111. 
 
9. Girl Seated on Hillside Overlooking the Water, 1878, watercolor and graphite on paper, 8 3/4 x 11 5/16 inches. Gift of Lily W. Russell and Family, 1998.28. 
 
10. The Guide, 1889, watercolor on ivory wove paper, 13 3/4 x 19 1/2 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.8. 
 
11. Guide Carrying a Deer, 1891, watercolor on ivory wove paper, 14 x 20 1/16 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.10. 
 
12. Leaping Trout, 1889, watercolor on paper, 14 1/16 x 20 1/16 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.7. 
 
13. Looking Out to Sea, Cullercoats, 1882, watercolor on paper, 13 3/4 x 20 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.17. 
 
14. after Winslow Homer, The Morning Bell from Harper's Weekly, December 13, 1873, wood engraving on wove paper, 9 3/16 x 13 7/16 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.118. 
 
15. after Winslow Homer, The Nooning from Harper's Weekly, August 16, 1873, wood engraving on wove paper, 10 11/16 x 15 15/16 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.120. 
 
16. after Winslow Homer, The Noon Recessfrom Harper's Weekly, June 28, 1873, wood engraving on wove paper, 11 1/8 x 15 7/8 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.119. 
 
17. after Winslow Homer, On the Beach-Two Are Company, Three Are None from Harper's Weekly, August 17, 1872, wood engraving on wove paper, 9 1/8 x 13 3/4 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.59. 
 
18. Pickerel Fishing, 1892, watercolor on wove paper, 11 1/4 x 20 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.11. 
 
19. Portrait of Benjamin Johnson Lang, 1895, graphite on wove paper, 16 x 13 3/8 inches. Gift of William D. Hamill, 1991.19.3. 
 
20. Sharpshooter, 1863, oil on canvas, 12 1/4 x 16 1/2 inches. Gift of Barbro and Bernard Osher, 1992.41. 
 
21. Taking an Observation, circa 1886, oil on panel, 15 1/4 x 24 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.3. 
 
22. Trappers Resting, 1874, watercolor on wove paper, 9 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.6. 
 
23. Two Men in a Canoe, 1895, watercolor on gray laid paper, 14 x 20 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.12. 
 
24. after Winslow Homer, Under the Falls, Catskill Mountains from Harper's Weekly September 14, 1872, wood engraving on wove paper, 9 1/8 x 13 13/16 inches. Gift of Peggy and Harold Osher, 1991.25.134. 
 
25. Weatherbeaten, 1894, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 48 3/8 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.1. 
 
26. Wild Geese in Flight, 1897, oil on canvas, 33 7/8 x 49 3/4 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.2. 
 
27. Windy Day, Cullercoats, 1881, graphite and gouache on tan laid paper, 11 3/16 x 20 1/4 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.15.
 
28. Young Ducks, 1897, watercolor on wove paper, 14 x 21 inches. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.13.

Editor's note: Resource Library readers may also enjoy these earlier articles and essays:

From TFAO's Topics in American Representational Art:

 

Also enjoy online multimedia:

a streaming slide show titled Winslow Homer's Right and Left from the National Gallery of Art, which is a narrated show interpreting one painting. Narration is by Nicolai Cikovsky Jr., senior curator of American and British paintings. A transcript is included in the presentation.

from High Museum of Art partnering with the Forum Network for Winslow Homer's Watercolors: Markers in a Life Journey, (52 minutes) a lecture by Elizabeth Johns, professor emerita, art history, UPenn. in which Dr. Johns discusses the relationship of Homer's watercolors and some of his oils to his life's journey. (Lecture contributed by WABE/AFN) [May 11, 2006]

from an online course by Dr. Liana Cheney of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell titled "Art History and Film," the video Winslow Homer: An American Original, a 49 minute 1999 HBO Artists' Specials series program directed by Graeme Lynch and produced by Devine Entertainment.

from WTTW11, which is producing a series of original "Artbeat" segments, a regular feature on its nightly newsmagazine Chicago Tonight, to help audiences learn about and connect to the variety of activities that are part of American Art American City, the clip "Winslow Homer 06:34 2/14/08." For more than 50 years, WTTW11 has served the Chicago community and beyond as the nation's most watched public television station, earning a reputation for providing outstanding programming in many areas, including the arts. (text courtesy Terra Foundation for American Art). Recent programs include:

 

and other online resources:

 

TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

Atlantic Coast of Winslow Homer, The Introduces painter Winslow Homer (1836--1910) and shows his work featuring scenes along the Atlantic Ocean. 35-minute video Description source: Amon Carter Museum Teacher Resource Center. The Museum contains a comprehensive lending library including many videos.
 
Winslow Homer: An American Original is a 49 minute 1999 HBO Artists' Specials series program directed by Graeme Lynch and produced by Devine Entertainment. The artist Winslow Homer has become famous for his illustrations of battle scenes during the Civil War, but he feels disenchanted with what he has experienced and withdraws to a quiet farm. There he meets a pair of teenagers whose lives have been shaken by the war. Together, Homer and the kids learn from each other and move forward with life.

Winslow Homer: Society and Solitude is a 2007 full-length documentary by filmmaker Steven John Ross, professor of communication, University of Memphis. Excerpts from an April 6, 2007 press release from Colby-Sawyer College follow:

Ross, a professor at the University of Memphis, worked on the Homer documentary for six years. He is best known for his award-winning PBS documentaries, "Oh Freedom After While!" (2000),"Black Diamonds, Blues City" (1996) and "At The River I Stand," (1993), and the literary adaptations "A Game of Catch" (1990) and "The Old Forest" (1984).
 
Don Coonley, professor of humanities and communication studies at Colby-Sawyer College, is one of the film's co-producers and sound recorders. Coonley is also the on-screen and voice-over actor representing Homer in the re-creation sequences filmed at the artist's studio on Prout's Neck, Maine. Coonley and Ross have collaborated on each other's film projects over the last 28 years.
 
"Winslow Homer: Society and Solitude" exists in two forms: as a feature length documentary (one hour and 49 minutes long); and as two separate, 55-minute films, the first depicting Homer's life and work up to 1880, and the second dealing with the last three decades of his life and work.
 
The new film depicts more than 180 Homer paintings, watercolors, etchings and illustrations, which were filmed in the Homer family archives and museums such as The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The National Gallery of Art, The Portland Museum of Art and The Fogg Museum at Harvard University. Re-creations of Homer in Maine were shot with the cooperation of his descendants at his cliff-side studio in Prout's Neck. Other locations captured by 16mm cameras for this project include Gloucester, Mass., and The North Woods Club in The Adirondack Mountains.
 
This documentary offers multiple perspectives on the artist through interviews with artists and major Homer scholars. Noted scholars and artists who appear in the film include Frank Kelly, Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Judith Walsh, Sarah Burns, Linda Docherty, Elizabeth Johns, Gary Gallagher, Ted Stebbins, Marc Simpson, David Tatham, Peter Wood, Tim Rollins, David Driskell, Sue Welsh Reed, Carol Troyen, Roy Perkinson and Patricia Junker. Other scholars who served as consultants include John Wilmerding, Bruce Robertson, Katherine Woltz, Margi Conrads, Henry Adams, and Nancy Mowll Mathews.
 
Winslow Homer: The Nature of the Artist  is a 29 minute 1986 video directed by Steve York from the National Gallery of Art Series. The art of Winslow Homer is examined in this profile of the American artist, from his early illustrations of the Civil War and his picturesque scenes of the country and shore, to the powerful images of nature that characterize his mature and late work. Commentary by the American art historian John Wilmerding provides a guide to Homer's artistic progress and to his achievements, particularly his transformation of the watercolor medium from the purely descriptive into a highly expressive vehicle.
 
TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format

rev. 3/3/11 RL expresses apprecaition to Kara Lewis for suggesting additional information for this page.

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. (TFAO) neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

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