America at Play: Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910) is widely recognized as an important American painter, but he was also a prolific illustrator. From 1857 to 1875, Homer made countless images that were reproduced as wood engravings in popular nineteenth-century periodicals and journals, such as Harper’s Weekly, Everyday Saturday, Ballou’s Pictorial, Appletons’ Journal of Literature, Science and Art.
Thanks to a gift from David S. Hendrick III, the Newport Art Museum owns over 160 of Homer’s printed illustrations including some of his most well-known and popular images. Drawing from the Museum’s collection, this exhibition focuses on Homer’s many illustrations of children and adolescents. After the American Civil War, Homer frequently turned to children and youth as his subject matter. Depicted in bucolic settings or on the beaches of Gloucester, Massachusetts and Long Branch, New Jersey, the children and adolescents in Homer’s images took on symbolic significance. They represented the promise of America’s rebirth after the divisive Civil War. At the same time, Homer’s children also reveal some of the social realities of America in the late 1860s and 1870s. Disseminated in print publications, Homer’s portrayals of youth became part of the fabric of nineteenth-century visual culture.