Sunday, June 27, 2010

More great Homers and a look at their artistic percursors

images from
In 1883 Homer moves from New York permanently to a studio that famous architect, John Calvin Stevens redesigned from a carriage house, at Prouts Neck, Maine. Homer spent the rest of his life working there and became very reclusive. Here is another collection of important later works.

The painting above "The Gulf Stream" is one of Homers best known. It has several antecedents I would like quickly to point out . They are Gericaults "Raft of the Medusa" a masterpiece in the Louvre. I think that Homer must have had this in mind.

I also think there is some deliberate quotation from Copleys "Watson and the Shark" pictured below. This is one of the paintings that first defined "American Painting" Homer was deliberately American in his art and would have enjoyed the passing reference. Notice the similar pose of the cheerful shark at the lower middle of both paintings.

Here are a couple more seascapes. The winter piece is particularly unusual, and was certainly a scene that Homer found on Prouts Neck.

This seascape presages the work of Fredrick Waugh. Waugh (September 13, 1861 – September 10, 1940) was a generation younger than Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910) . Waugh, though American born spent his early career in England. He returned to Americain 1908 only two years before Homers death. Waugh lived for a number of years on Baileys island, just north of Homers studio.

Below is a pieced called "West Wind" it is Japanese influenced and has an ethereal lightness to it that evokes the mist that accompanies heavy surf.

Thats all for tonight folks. I have to sleep sometime. More important Homers tomorrow.


Mary Bullock said...

Stape, I notice that in the last picture and the snow scene, that Homer has positioned his signature at an angle in the lower left corner. The signatures (especially in the last one) becomes a part of the landscape. Is this a good idea? Should the signature be tilted like this(almost camouflaged)? Can you comment on this please?

Maineland said...

I'd like to follow up on Mary's question about signatures. (I apologize if this is something you have posted about in the past, I've only followed your blog for a few months.) I tend to be subtle with my signature, not wanting to detract from the work. I know that some folks sign in bright orange or red and quite large. Your thoughts?

Maineland said...

P.S. Thanks for the Homers!

Mary Byrom said...

Love, these pictures. Another good one. Thanks Stape for all the hard work.

billspaintingmn said...

My first impression of West Wind was magical.
Having enjoyed the art of Frank Frazetta when I was a kid, I feel this painting may have influenced Frazetta when he was a kid!
I can almost imagine a giant serpent being summoned from the waters.
The colors and atmosphere also has a Frezetta-ness to it!
Actually, I should say that Frezetta has a Homer-ness to his art.
This Winslow Homer guy needs to be celibrated more.
I'm now recognizing him in others art too!
Thanks again Stape! Now turn out the lights,and get some sleep!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think it is because of the slanting diagonal designs of the paintings that Homer did that. I don't think it particularly detracts from the paintings, nor do I think it helps either. As long as it doesn't look accidental or crooked, you can slant a signature.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Here is something from an old post.
* Sign on a dried canvas, so you can wipe it out and do it until it is right
* Use a rigger or small sable brush.
* Sign legibly, I can't imagine why an artist would have an unreadable signature. If people like the picture you want them to know who you are.
* Sign the thing neatly, many parts of a painting may not receive close scrutiny, but the signature will.
* The signature should be level. It will be next to the rabbet of the frame. If it is crooked that will show and look sloppy.
* I think a signature should be large enough and clear enough to be easily read, even in reduction.
* I date my larger paintings. When they come up for auction and they are old, I am glad they are dated.
* Always sign in the lower left hand corner unless there is a good design reason not to.
* Don't try to develop too stylish a signature. Your signature will develop in paint, just the way your handwriting did.
* I often sign in red. Many of the historic painters did this and I like the way it looks.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have a few watercolors for tonight. The fun never ends!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Frazetta certainly was aware of Homer. I don't think he ever met him though. Homer is unavailable for comment on Frazetta, but I wonder what he would say.