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Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)

Winslow Homer American

Not on view

Homer developed this painting from sketches and watercolors he made during an 1873 visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts. He completed it in 1876, just as the nation celebrated its centennial. Over the course of three years, Homer had refined the composition, amplifying its optimistic symbolism by giving control of the rudder to one of the boys (instead of the man) and by adding an anchor on the bow representing security and hope. When the painting made its debut at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1876, it was recognized as a positive expression of the nation’s future, an idea that is underscored by its original title, A Fair Wind, suggesting smooth sailing ahead.

Breezing Up is an early example of a motif that would fascinate Homer throughout his career—that of men at sea—from its cheerful origins in the 1870s to more dire scenes such as The Gulf Stream, decades later.

Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Oil on canvas, American

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