Born in a time when the history of his young country was still being written, realist painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was perhaps destined to impart the essential American character in his works. Homer’s subjects would include sunlit countryside idylls and schoolchildren, Civil War scenes, swelling seas with an occasional marine misadventure, and northern woodlands. Much of America was still the primordial wilderness in which he reveled.
Boston, the quintessence of American identity, was Homer’s birthplace, and the family moved to Cambridge when he was a young child. As a boy, Homer was attracted to the out-of-doors, recording his rural excursions in drawings. The work of his mother, Henrietta, a watercolorist, served as a template for him with her realistic representations of birds and other subjects of nature. The independent spirit of his father Charles, who embarked on such sundry financial adventures as seeking gold in California, would be part of his son’s individuality as person and painter.
Smith JM. A Garden in NassauWinslow Homer. JAMA. 2013;310(8):778-779. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5275