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Audio Guide

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Winslow Homer Crosscurrents



Narrator: “These works are real: the artist paints what he has seen and known.” That’s how a critic for the Art Journal of London described Winslow Homer’s paintings in 1867. Indeed, throughout his life, into the early 20th century, Homer did paint what he had seen and known. His realist works capture the nuance and specificity of the many places he’d lived or visited—the rugged shores of Maine, the sunlit beaches of the Caribbean, the dusty fields of rural Virginia.

But Homer’s works are real in another way. Through compelling depictions of his 19th-century world, Homer explores deeper, universal themes that transcend time and place.

Stephanie Herdrich is Associate Curator of American Painting and Sculpture, and Sylvia Yount is the Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing. Together, they organized this exhibition.

Stephanie Herdrich: Homer is one of the most celebrated American painters of the 19th century, and people are very familiar with his paintings, especially some of his images of modern American life in the late 19th century.

Sylvia Yount: But if you look very deeply, there's also this incipient tension that's there in almost every image. And I think he found early on that he had a real talent for storytelling and for creating tension in his compositions. And for not giving the whole story away.

Stephanie Herdrich: The exhibition looks at the key themes of his art—mortality, humankind’s relationship with nature, contemporary issues of race, conflict—and traces those issues across his career.

Narrator: It’s those themes—and crosscurrents—that we’ll navigate on our tour today as well. Let’s begin.

This audio tour is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.


  1. Introduction
  2. 4362: Prisoners from the Front
  3. Dressing for the Carnival
  4. Old Mill (The Morning Bell)
  5. Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts (High Tide)
  6. Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
  7. 4361: Inside the Bar
  8. The Life Line
  9. Lost on the Grand Banks
  10. A Garden in Nassau
  11. Sponge Fishermen, Bahamas
  12. Natural Bridge, Bermuda
  13. After the Hurricane, Bahamas
  14. 4382: The Gulf Stream
  15. Searchlight on Harbor Entrance, Santiago de Cuba
  16. Early Morning After a Storm at Sea
  17. Right and Left
  18. Shooting the Rapids, Saguenay River
  19. Driftwood
  20. Woods at Prout's Neck
  21. A Good Pool, Saguenay River