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Morro Castle

Winslow Homer American

Not on view

Homer sketched this drawing of Morro Castle on-site while exploring Santiago de Cuba in February 1885. Built by the Spanish in the seventeenth century, the fortress captivated travelers from the United States, who marveled at its impressive size and age. In Morro Castle, a year from the century of the building’s construction appears to have been inscribed across the sentry box at right. This indiscernible date, along with the weathered walls and archaic mortar cannon, perhaps alludes to Spain’s increasingly precarious position in Cuba in the face of encroaching U.S. interests. Originally a defense against pirates, Morro was later used by the Spanish colonial government as a prison for Cuban insurrectionists, several of whom were executed there around the time of Homer’s visit. This context lends his compositions a possible political dimension. Rather than picture the stronghold on its formidable perch above sea level, the artist instead provides views from within, near where the killings took place.

Morro Castle, Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Watercolor on paper, American

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