Winslow Homer - A Biography Of An American Artist

Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer

Apprenticeship Under Famed Lithographer JH Buford

Winslow Homer was born on February 24, 1836 in the Northeast section of the United States. Many of his earlier works were sketches of his native Prout’s Neck, Massachusetts and the beautiful Adirondacks. At the tender age of 19, Winslow Homer went to work under the tutelage of famed lithographer JH Buford in Boston. It was during this early time that Winslow Homer’s career as an artist urged the artist to expand and seek out more adventurous opportunities in the world of art. After completing his apprentice at Buford’s lithographic firm in Massachusetts, Homer then became a student in the art world at the National Academy of Design. One of his professors was the famous Frederick Rondel and he would say later in life that teacher Rondel would have the greatest influence on his color schemes.

Civil War Incivility

After accepting a position at Harper’s Weekly, Winslow Homer was sent to the front lines to record in oil based paints and charcoal renderings, one of the most terrible times in American history, the US Civil War. An interesting fact about Winslow Homer is the methods in which he portrayed the battles and men of the war. Homer appreciated his innate ability to depict the more ‘human side’ of the battle. And with every stroke we were taken to the field and could even smell the smoke from cannon and the stench of dying men in agonistic primal screams.

The Wishbone
The Wishbone

The Wishbone Most-Famous Work of Art

This can be seen remarkably in the treasured piece by Winslow Homer, The Wishbone. This piece showed Union soldiers enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner and sharing the proverbial wishbone. It was works such as this that showed the human side and the sentimentality of men, in general, that vaulted Winslow Homer to fame and success as one of the greatest artists of the 19th century. Winslow Homer would travel all around North America and especially the cold northeastern coast of Maine, sketching and painting what is deemed some of the most beautiful landscapes of the area.

Rowing Home
Rowing Home

National Academy of Design

In 1865 Winslow Homer was elected as a member of the National Academy of Design where he had studied earlier and this “notoriety and fame’ that Winslow Homer dodged, eventually caught up with this great artist. Winslow Homer passed away on September 29, 1910 and is buried the family’s Massachusetts burial plot.

Artists Sketching in the White Mountains
Artists Sketching in the White Mountains

Running from Fame Only Made the Artist More Famous

Winslow Homer seemingly cared not for the notoriety and fame that would still come to him, yet chose to make certain that he was able to pay his way through life without the assistance of family or friends. This speaks a great deal about the characteristics of Winslow Homer as not just a man yet one of the most successful and beloved American artist of the 19th century.

When speaking of Winslow Homer, the great artist of the 19th century, it is important to remember that the majority of his works were never seen by the public. To put this in a better perspective and to be more concise with this statement, Winslow Homer sometimes did not receive credit for his work. While employed with Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, Homer would, either by persuasion or error, not sign or take credit for most of his sketching’s. The reasoning behind this was so that the ease of replacing an artist on the payroll for the papers could be achieved. This may seem strange and not at all like an artist that strove for recognition and admiration, yet it was more of the norm than one would think.

Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
Cloud Shadows
Cloud Shadows
Sunlight on the Coast
Sunlight on the Coast

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