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Winslow Homer American

Not on view

As a freelance illustrator, Homer traveled to the front lines in Virginia three times, documenting battlefields and the everyday lives of soldiers. Sharpshooter, his first significant work in oil, conveys the war’s devastation in symbolic ways. Homer suggests the imminence of death as a Union solider perched in a tree takes aim at his unseen target through a telescopic viewfinder. This modern technology allowed a sniper to strike an unsuspecting victim from up to a half-mile away. Homer later explained in a letter accompanied by a chilling sketch: "I looked through one of their rifles once . . . [the] impression struck me as being as near murder as anything I ever could think of in connection with the army & I always had a horror of that branch of the service."

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

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