The author of books on Winslow Homer's paintings at Prout's Neck ("Winslow Homer in the 1890's: Prout's Neck Observed") and his wood engravings ("Winslow Homer's Magazine Engravings"), Philip C. Beam, notes that Homer was the "leading designer of wood engravings of his day, and that many of the engravings are now loved and admired as masterpieces of their kind" and that "At their best they rank with his watercolors and oils for style and beauty."
Throughout his career, Homer produced pairings in which we find conflicts of size and proportion relating to planar and spatial problems, to problems of resolution between the two- and three-dimensional worlds. This is mot surprising - it is frequently the dilemma of the artist caught between "making" and "matching," between the picture plane that resists entry and the demands of the world he walks in.
When Winslow Homer was asked whether he ever took liberties in painting his subjects, he replied emphatically: "Never! Never! When I have selected the thing carefully, I paint it exactly as it appears." It would in fact be difficult to think of an American pained who went to such elaborate lengths to assure fidelity of representation.
...many mysteries remain about the artist and his work at Prouts, especially because Homer left no written record of how he worked or the real-life inspirations for his paintings. For example, experts are still guessing about the actual setting for “A Summer Night,” the famous scene of two women dancing by moonlight near the rocks. Though there is no moon, its light falls brilliantly across the waves, illuminating the landscape and the dancers.
Homer (1836-1910) lived and worked in his Prouts Neck studio for the last 27 years of his life. It’s a short walk from his front door to Cannon Rock and the sea that inspired works such as “Weatherbeaten” (1894), his masterful painting of driving rain and waves breaking against boulders on the shore.
After a stay in Paris, Homer used an Impressionist palette for a while then developed a personal style midway between Realism and Symbolism.
No single artist represented as many different old New Englands as did Winslow Homer. An illustrator, watercolorist, marine and landscape painter, Homer's vision of his native region enjoyed great currency in his lifetime and influenced countless others, both before and after his death. His path to greatness, like so many other painters of the period, led directly out of a work-a-day middle-class background.
Winslow Homer's primary subject during the 1870s was rural America. Although pastoral landscapes provided the backdrop, these paintings most often were centered around human activity, especially that including women and children. The artist's frequent trips to the countryside north of New Your City made appropriate scenes and models readily available.
In 1859 [Homer] moved to New York City, where began his career as a painter. He visited the front during the Civil War and his first important paintings were of Civil War subjects. In 1867 he spent a year in France. At Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1873 he began to paint in watercolor. In 1875 he submitted his last drawing to Harper's Weekly, ending his career as an illustrator. He traveled widely in the 1870s in New York State, to Virginia, and Massachusetts, and in 1881 he began a two-year stay in England, living in Cullercoats, near Newcastle. Returning to America in 1883, he settled at Prout's Neck, Maine, where he would live for the rest of his life.
American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910) — the self-taught master best known today for his scenes of nature and the sea — got his start as one of the “special artists” of the Civil War. They were the combat correspondents of their day, traveling and living with soldiers. Their sketches, woodcuts, and paintings showed both the horror of battle and the makeshift respite of camp life.