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"American Outdoors: Seasonal Prints By Winslow Homer"
2001-06-15 until 2001-09-23
Hudson River Museum
Yonkers, NY, USA

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was perhaps the most famous illustrator of his day, earning his living as a designer of wood engravings for the first 18 years of his career. The Museum now owns over 100 of Homer's prints for the New York City periodical Harper's Weekly, due to a recent gift by Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Lefcourt. Americans Outdoors presents a selection of these, highlighting the artist's astute and charming observations of Americans at work and play in the great outdoors. Two of Homer's earliest prints, The Bathe at Newport and Skating at Boston (both 1858) , foretell his later preoccupation with social activities and recreation, but in 1861 Harper's dispatched him to cover the Civil War. In prints such as Holiday in Camp-Soldiers Playing Football (1865), Homer reveals his interest in everyday scenes of camaraderie away from the battlefield.

The most accomplished of Homer's later wood engravings, such as Snap the Whip (1873), relate to his paintings. Having established his reputation, he could contribute themes of his OWl} choosing, and he favored middle class leisure activities and genial aspects of rural life. His images of young ladies riding horses, swimming or engaging in other outdoor pursuits display a new type of energetic, carefree woman quite the opposite to the demure beauty of pre-Civil War days. Also from this era are Raid on a Sand swallow Colony (1874) and the other children's series prints, as well as scenes of men camping and hunting based on his own summer trips to the Adirondack Mountains in 1870 and 1874. Despite Homer's great success at illustration, he made a conscious decision to pursue painting as his main focus and, in fact, became one of America's great masters. Today, he is equally revered as a consummate graphic artist, whose best engravings bridge the gap between commercial work and fine art.


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