Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Veteran in a New Field

Artist:
Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine)
Date:
1865
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
24 1/8 x 38 1/8in. (61.3 x 96.8cm) Framed: 37 3/8 × 51 1/4 × 5 1/4 in. (94.9 × 130.2 × 13.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967
Accession Number:
67.187.131
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 762
Painted soon after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865, and President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination five days later, Homer’s canvas depicts an emblematic farmer, revealed to be a Union veteran as well by his discarded jacket and canteen at the lower right. His old-fashioned scythe evokes the Grim Reaper, recalling the war’s harvest of death and expressing grief at Lincoln’s murder. A redemptive feature is the bountiful wheat—a northern crop—which could connote the Union’s victory. Referring to death and life, Homer’s iconic composition offers a powerful meditation on America’s sacrifices and its potential for recovery.
Signature: [at lower left]: Winslow Homer 65; [on canteen at lower right]: W.H.
the artist, until 1866; sale, Henry H. Leeds and Miner, New York, 17 Nov. 1866; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York, by 1936–died 1967
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