The Hyde Collection
Courtyard, former residence of Louis and Charlotte Hyde, Bigelow and Wadsworth, Architects, built 1912, © 1987 The Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, New York
Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Winslow Homer, an exhibition presenting paintings, watercolors and etchings that span the artist's career, will open in the Hoopes Gallery of The Hyde Collection Art Museum on Saturday, October 30 and remain on view through Sunday, December 5, 1999. Considered by many to be 19th century America's most gifted artist, Homer's works are often viewed as embodying the beginnings of a truly "national" art that adopted the American experience as its subject matter.
The exhibition offers 16 images of various media intended to contemplate relevant aspects of Homer's artistic development. Curated by Hyde acting director Randall Suffolk, the selected pieces include several important works from the Museum's permanent collection, as well as those loaned from the Clarke Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts; the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts; the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; and the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery. (left: A Good One, Adirondacks, 1889, watercolor on paper, 12 1/4 x 19 1/2 inches, © 1985, The Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, New York)
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was an American landscape, marine and genre artist. A master of oil painting and watercolor, he was also a gifted printmaker, illustrator and pictorial journalist. Born in Boston, the artist received no real formal training with the exception of some life-drawing classes at the National Gallery of Design and a stint studying painting with Frédéric Rondel in 1861. From 1859 until the mid-1870s, Homer worked as a commercial illustrator. During the Civil War, the artist gained international public recognition for his pictorial documentation of the battlefield commissioned by Harper's Weekly.
Post-war, Homer traveled first to Europe then returned to the States to establish a studio in New York City. There he began executing illustrations depicting vignettes from everyday life. The public embraced the authenticity of these portrayals as embodying the democratic spirit, considering them a visual similarity to the poetry of Walt Witman at that time. Although popular and successful, in 1876 Homer abandoned commercial work, devoting attention to painting his vision of the American scene full-time.
Homer's subject matter included landscape and rural genre scenes, but he also found inspiration in the sea and traveled extensively to coastal locations - England, Cuba, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Florida and Prouts Neck, Maine where he eventually would live out his life. His dramatic and forceful renderings of the Atlantic seascape remain unsurpassed and some of his most celebrated paintings. The Adirondack Mountains were an additional important destination. For 35 years the artist found inspiration for his work in the rugged terrain, the life of the outdoorsman and the natural beauty of the region.
In the last fifteen years of his life, Homer was revered as the nation's foremost painter. At the time of his death, Homer's work was represented in more public collections than any other living American artist. His ability to capture the spirit of America through images characterized by their directness, realism, subjectivity and color, resonate with the nation and hold a special position in the history of American art.
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For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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