Boys in a Dory

Artist: Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine)

Date: 1873

Medium: Watercolor washes and gouache over graphite underdrawing on medium rough textured white wove paper

Dimensions: 9 3/4 x 13 7/8 in. (24.8 x 35.2 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Bequest of Molly Flagg Knudtsen, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.608.1


Having visited a landmark exhibition of the American Society of Painters in Water Colors in New York, Homer spent summer 1873 experimenting with watercolors in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on Cape Ann, north of Boston. In a series of small sheets, he depicted boys and girls engaged in play or modest tasks. These images of childhood pastimes echo his oils of the period, including Snap the Whip (1872; MMA). Reflecting the innocent, idyllic nature of his subjects, Homer's Gloucester watercolors are simple and direct. Featuring washes of color carefully applied within pale pencil outlines and much opaque pigment, they also demonstrate his cautious approach to the new medium. This delightful sheet reveals Homer's ability to capture scintillating effects of bright sunlight, rippling water, and luminous atmosphere—effects that predict the brilliance of the watercolors he made later during his travels to the Adirondacks and the tropics.