Winslow Homer 1836-1910 | American maritime and landscape painter
Homer is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art. Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator. He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations. Some major artists create popular stereotypes that last for decades; others never reach into popular culture at all.
Winslow Homer was a painter of the first kind. Even today, 150 years after his birth, one sees his echoes on half the magazine racks of America. Just as John James Audubon becomes, by dilution, the common duck stamp, so one detects the vestiges of Homer's watercolors in every outdoor-magazine cover that has a dead whitetail draped over a log or a largemouth bass, like an enraged Edward G. Robinson with fins, jumping from dark swamp water. Homer was not, of course, the first "sporting artist" in America, but he was the undisputed master of the genre, and he brought to it both intense observation and a sense of identification with the landscape-just at the cultural moment when the religious Wilderness of the nineteenth century, the church of nature, was shifting into the secular Outdoors, the theater of manly enjoyment. If you want to see Thoreau's America turning into Teddy Roosevelt's, Homer the watercolorist is the man to consult.