Snap the Whip

Winslow Homer American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 767

Snap the Whip celebrates the pleasures of childhood in a rough-and-tumble game. Homer’s barefoot boys are in and of nature—determined, rugged, and exuberant—an optimistic symbol of the nation’s future. The teamwork and coordination involved in their pursuit were seen as essential qualities for reuniting the country after war, though Homer hints at the challenges ahead through the child at the end, flung from the chain. The scene is infused with nostalgia, immortalizing the little red rural schoolhouse just as the nation was shifting away from its agrarian past toward a future of increased urbanization.

Snap the Whip, Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Oil on canvas, American

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