Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba

Winslow Homer American

Not on view

Homer revisited his 1885 drawings of Morro Castle following the 1898 Spanish-Cuban-American War. In the resulting canvas, he focused on an electric searchlight used by the U.S. Navy to prevent the Spanish fleet from escaping Santiago harbor until they could be defeated. The artist offers a striking juxtaposition between the dim, antiquated cannons of the Spanish monument and the searchlight’s powerful rays. Framing the conflict in symbolic, disembodied terms, Homer perhaps implied a sense of U.S. technological superiority and imperial ascendancy. Meanwhile, only a small section of Cuban shoreline is illuminated at right, reflecting the ways the colonial power struggle eclipsed what had been a long, local fight for independence. Homer’s modern history painting appears to brood on these unequal power dynamics without offering a clear resolution.

#4371. Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents. Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba

Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba, Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Oil on canvas, American

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