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The Turtle Pound

Winslow Homer American

Not on view

Compared to Homer’s watercolors from his first trip to the Bahamas, those from his second visit are painted with more confidence and immediacy. This bolder approach is especially evident in works where flowing pigment transforms into undulating waves of the sea, as in this image of two men transferring a turtle into a holding tank. Artist and viewer are level with the workers wrangling their prey in the turquoise water. Intense sunlight highlights the animal’s exposed underbelly. But the image is about more than the men’s labor. A traditional food of the West Indies, turtles had become a luxury delicacy for export to the United States and Britain over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and were associated with empire.

The Turtle Pound, Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Watercolor and graphite on paper, American

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