Since seeing a show of Winslow Homer's works a few years ago, I have been in awe of this artist's talent and versatility. So it was natural for me to pick up this beautiful and informative book which focuses on his watercolor career. In addition, the author gives us Homer's earlier background as an oil painter and illustrator. She is certainly well-qualified to write about Homer---she holds the position of Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery.
The color plates in this book are gorgeous and the text gives good information about Homer, his life, times, and techniques. It was a delight for my eyes!
In 1873, at the age of 37, Homer began serious work with watercolor while in Gloucester, Massachusetts. These paintings were characterized by broad brushstrokes and extensive use of light and color.
The Gloucester watercolors began Homer's lifelong pattern: he would focus for a certain amount of time on a singular theme inspired by a particular location. Some of these themes included rural life, especially childhood, and seascapes/marine scenes. He lived for periods of time in Gloucester; Cullercoats, England; Prout's Neck, Maine; the Bahamas and Cuba;, the Adirondacks; Quebec; Bermuda; and Florida. His need for privacy led him to live in somewhat remote locations, and during these years he was constantly experimenting with new techniques. Prout's Neck was his home base for his last 30 years although he often spent time in other places during that period. It was in Cullercoats (1881-82) that he developed his mature watercolor technique and his love of sea themes which he painted for the rest of his life.
Homer's late works are very thought provoking, often showing heroic subjects or themes; they show nature's beauty and its power and humans' mortality.
Homer lived a very solitary life, never truly realizing how really famous he was. He died at the age of 75, his last five years spent even more withdrawn from society and battling many illnesses.