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The Cover
June 4, 2008

The Water Fan

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2008;299(21):2480. doi:10.1001/jama.299.21.2480

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), generally acknowledged as America's greatest watercolorist, came to the medium relatively late in his career. Only during his late 30s, while living for an extended period in a small English fishing village near Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear, did he begin to experiment seriously with watercolor. Over the next 30 years he would produce nearly 700 watercolors. Some of the best are among his last.

Not surprisingly for one interested in the nuances of light reflected from moving surfaces, Homer often painted the sea. Sometimes his subject was the sea alone, a massive breathing force of nature. Sometimes he painted a lone figure against the sea, telling the tragic story of the unequal struggle of man against nature. At other times he emphasized the symbiotic relationship between the two, as in The Water Fan (cover ), completed while Homer was in Nassau during the season of 1898-1899.