Fishing Boats, Key West

Winslow Homer American

Not on view

Although Homer’s title identifies this watercolor as Key West, Florida, it appears to show typical Bahamian fishing boats. From the seventeenth century, Bahamians had frequently traveled back and forth to Florida, and Key West is only about 280 miles west of Nassau, across the Gulf Stream. Following the U.S. Civil War, many Black Bahamians migrated to Key West, where they found familiar work (including turtling and salvaging). Here, Homer achieved brilliant atmospheric effects through the rapid application of fluid washes and the carefully calculated use of his white paper, which he reserved to indicate the boat’s side, sails, and light reflecting on the water. Lyrical graphite lines, especially evident in the rigging and sails, seem to imply a sea breeze.

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Fishing Boats, Key West, Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper, American

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