Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper
13 15/16 x 20 15/16 in. (35.4 x 53.2 cm)
Amelia B. Lazarus Fund, 1910 (10.228.10)
Beginning in 1884, Homer made many winter visits to tropical locations and watercolor became his preferred medium while traveling. In contrast to his weighty and carefully considered Cullercoats watercolors, his tropical pictures were lighter in handling and less formal in composition. In late 1885 and early 1886, he went to Florida, painting in Tampa and Key West. He returned in 1890, staying in the fishing community of Enterprise on the St. Johns River and painting watercolors notable for their fluid washes and delicate color harmonies. During the winter of 189899, Homer was once again in the Bahamas. In one of the most productive periods of his later years, he created at least twenty-five watercolors, distinguished from those of 188485 by even brighter light, more saturated colors, broader strokes, and far less use of pencil underdrawing. Similar quantities and even looser handling are found in the watercolors such as this one, which he painted during his visit to Bermuda in 1899.
Homer's mature watercolors are suggestive and experimental, immediate responses to visual experience. Although these works look effortless, they were carefully planned, and even the most assured among them reveals the artist's changes and corrections. "You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors," Homer is reported to have said. His prediction was accurate: his watercolors provided him with a handsome income, they have never ceased to be admired, and their influence on artists of succeeding generations has been profound.