On sojourns away from the studio where he labored in oils, Homer took along his watercolors and produced his freshest and most expressive work
Winslow Homer had been earning his living as an artist for nearly twenty years before he turned his hand to watercolors: like most of his contemporaries, he considered oil paintings worthier of serious attention. But beginning in 1873, whenever Homer left his studio for fishing trips in the Adirondacks and Quebec, the Bahamas and Florida, he took his watercolors along. At first he made the choice for practical reasons—the paraphernalia was easier to carry—but it proved wise on artistic grounds as well. Homer’s work in the medium ranks among the stunning achievements of American art.
An exhibition of Homer watercolors will be on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., until May 11, when it will travel to Fort Worth and then New Haven. The exhibit is accompanied by a book by Helen A. Cooper, curator of American paintings and sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery.