Friday, November 5, 2010

Artist: Winslow Homer - Artists Sketching in the White Mountains

Winslow Homer (1836–1910)
Artists Sketching in the White Mountains, 1868
Oil on panel, 9-1/2 x 15-7/8 inches
Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55. 4

The White Mountains served as a national landscape in the years that followed the Civil War. One of the first regions to engender and exploit a tourist economy in the United States, the towns surrounding the Presidential Range of New Hampshire provided the infrastructure for a generation of artists to capture the view while taking in the fresh air of the country. Painting Mount Washington, the highest peak in the range, came to be considered a rite of passage for artists of every stripe. Homer—ironic in temperament and possessing a keen, self-deprecating sense of humor—took obvious pleasure in depicting himself as last in this queue of plein-air painters as evidenced by the knapsack bearing the inscription “Homer.” Although Homer would continue to paint genre subjects throughout the 1870s, the subtle critique evidenced in Artists Sketching in the White Mountains would eventually lead him to darker, existential dramas.

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