Brooklyn Museum of Art

Brooklyn, NY



Winslow Homer: Illustrating America


Winslow Homer: Illustrating America will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from July 2 through October 10, 1999. The exhibition comprises 115 wood engravings from 1857 to 1878 selected from a collection of more than 225 works given to the Museum by Harvey Isbitts. Among the featured works will be one of Winslow Homer's earliest known prints, Minnie Clyde: Kitty Clyde's Sister, used for a song sheet cover, as well as such popular genre scenes as Snap the Whip.

The exhibition will include Homer's well-known images depicting the grimness, savagery, and poignancy of the Civil War, including The War--Making Havelocks for the Volunteers and The Army of the Potomac--A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty. By war's end Homer was the leading artist of Harper's Weekly, favored with more full-page spreads, cover designs, and choice positions than any other artist. His 1860s illustrations of the seashore and various leisure activities give glimpses of the kind of work he would create in the future.

The exhibition will explore the meanings of these images, placing them in a context that will reveal to the late twentieth-century viewer the intricacies of nineteenth-century American social conventions. The prints provide a view of life more than a hundred years ago as seen by one of America's most important artists .

On his twenty-first birthday in 1857 Homer rented a studio in Boston and began a long period of productivity. He sent drawings to Harper & Brothers and in less than a year the newly founded Harper's Weekly published his Spring in the City.

Thereafter Homer's drawings appeared frequently in Harper's Weekly. Among the more memorable ones was Husking the Corn in New England, the first in a long series of rustic genre pictures illustrating various aspects of farm life.

In 1859, soon after his arrival in New York, Homer became sought after as one of America's finest illustrators, working in wood engraving at a time when that medium was the most expedient mode of reproducing images in the popular press. Invited by Harper & Brothers to become a staff artist, he declined, preferring the freedom to work on his own.

Images from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Another Year by the Old Clock, 1870; The War--Making Havelocks for the Volunteers, 1861; The Army of the Potomac--A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty, 1862; Gloucester Harbor, 1873; The Skating Season, 1862; Thanksgiving in Camp, 1862

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Brooklyn Museum of Art

For further biographical information on the artist cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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