Winslow Homer was born on February 24, 1836, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father owned a hardware business and his mother was a watercolor painter who exposed Homer to art at an early age. Homer’s family left Boston when he was six and moved to the countryside, where his love for nature began. Rather stay inside and study, young Winslow ran in the fields and fished in the streams. At the age of 19, Homer was apprenticed a lithographic firm in Boston. Soon he was a major contributor to such popular magazines as Harper’s Weekly. He was very good it but, he found the work stifling and tedious, and he left the shop to become a freelance illustrator.
In 1859 Homer moved to New York City, to be closer to the publishers that commissioned his illustrations and to study at the National Academy of Design and pursue his painting. He took a few painting lessons with Frederic Rondel, and set up a studio at the 10th Street Studio Building. Soon Homer was sent by Harper’s to the front as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War.
While traditional battle pictures usually depicted, “long lines…led on by generals in cocked hats,” Homer instead sheds light on the Civil War and on daily life in the mid-nineteenth century such as in Dad’s Coming Home.. The Sharp Shooter shows a solitary figure who, using new rifle technology, is able to fire from a distance and remain unseen by his target.The subject of this engraving shows the lone figure of a sharpshooter and reveals the changing nature of modern warfare. With new, mass-produced weapons such as rifled muskets, killing became distant, impersonal, and efficiently deadly. Dad’s Coming Home Sharp Shooter
Throughout the 1870s Homer continued painting mostly rural or idyllic scenes of farm life, children playing, and young adults courting, including Country School (1871),The Crack the Whip (1872) and Apple Picking (1878). Apple Picking 1878 Country School 1871 Crack the Whip 1872
Homer’s nature was too independent for the classroom and he soon began to travel. He visited England, Canada, Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas in search of inspiration. His fascination with the sea began. Breezing Up 1876 Crab Fishing 1883
In March of 1881 the artist sailed from New York to London. Hearty, industrious women such as these were a constant source of inspiration to Homer. During the year and a half he remained in there, the artist produced some of his most beautiful work. Sparrow Hall stands very high among those works England marked a critical turning point in the artist's career. Here the painter developed his mature watercolor technique, and here also he found the theme of the sea to which he devoted the rest of his life. Sparrow Hall 1881-2
Upon his return to America, Homer settled on then-remote Prout's Neck, near Portland, Maine, where his studio overlooked the ocean. His subjects now were masculine ones: fishermen battling the elements both on shore and far out at sea. The Herring Net 1885
Beginning in 1884, Homer made many winter visits to tropical locations and watercolor became his preferred medium while traveling. In contrast to his weighty and carefully considered Cullercoats watercolors, his tropical pictures were lighter in handling and less formal in composition. In late 1885 and early 1886, he went to Florida, painting in Tampa and Key West. Flower Garden and Bungalow, Bermuda, 1899
About 1890, Homer executed a magnificent series of paintings of the sea itself, elemental pictures that have been interpreted in many ways. Without question, Homer's late works are heroic and thought provoking; they portray both the beauty and the awesome power of nature, and they deal with the great questions of human meaning and mortality. Sunlight on the Coast 1890