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Right and Left

Winslow Homer American

Not on view

Right and Left is widely regarded as one of the most powerful and innovative paintings in the history of American art. Homer’s second-to-last oil painting, the work has been interpreted as a virtuosic depiction of expert duck-hunting, a scene of potent conflict between man and nature, and a meditation on the artist’s own mortality. By capturing a life-and-death moment for the depicted goldeneye ducks—puffs of smoke and a flash of light from a shotgun signal the damage caused by the minuscule sportsman in the canoe at left—Homer ruminates on unnatural endings, much as he had decades earlier in Sharpshooter (on view in the first gallery). Compositionally complex and emotionally piercing, this late work reveals the artist’s ability to distill universal themes in surprising formal language.

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

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