A fresh exploration of the work of iconic American painter Winslow Homer (1836–1910) through the lens of conflict, a recurring theme in his prolific career. A persistent fascination with struggle permeates Homer’s art—from emblematic images of the Civil War and Reconstruction to dazzling tropical works and monumental marines—and reveals his lifelong engagement with the charged subjects of race, nature, and the environment.
This publication illuminates Homer’s preoccupation with the complex social and political issues of his era—war, slavery, imperialism—as well as his broader concerns with the fragility of human life and dominance of nature. These powerful themes are present in his earliest Civil War and Reconstruction paintings, which explore the effect of the conflict on the landscape, soldiers, and the formerly enslaved. They continue through his later images of rural life, dramatic rescues, and hunting—paintings that grapple with the often uneasy relationship between humans and the natural world. Toward the end of his life, human figures were reduced to tiny, irrelevant presences, while the ocean acquired a pivotal role.
This richly illustrated volume will be published to accompany a retrospective at the National Gallery, organized in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Published by National Gallery Global/Distributed by Yale University Press
“The exhibition is accompanied by a publication by Yale University Press, highlighting the ‘issues of race, imperialism and enslavement’ — issues which, to the huge majority of Winslow Homer’s admirers, have never been discernible in his art.”—A.N. Wilson, Daily Mail