'Winslow Homer: Eyewitness' at Harvard Art Museums

  • CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts
  • /
  • June 20, 2019

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Winslow Homer, Prisoners from the Front, 1866. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Frank B. Porter, 1922 (22.207), Hom1. Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Image source: Art Resource, NY.

Discover how celebrated American artist Winslow Homer’s work for the illustrated periodical Harper’s Weekly helped shape his later career as a painter and watercolorist. Winslow Homer: Eyewitness is on view at Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass., August 31, 2019–January 5, 2020.

During the Civil War (1861–1865), American artist Winslow Homer (1836–1910) served as a correspondent for Harper’s. His sketches of soldiers, both in battle on the front lines and in quieter moments back at camp, were reproduced to accompany the journal’s accounts of the conflict. Homer worked for Harper’s just as new technologies were making it possible to rapidly reproduce newsworthy images on a large scale. Working together with Harper’s editors and engravers, he employed a range of pictorial strategies to reassure skeptical readers that his illustrations were not fabrications, but eyewitness observations “drawn on the spot.”

While in the field as an artist-correspondent, Homer developed habits of seeing and pictorial strategies that informed his work in other media. In addition to tracing these connections, this show explores broader questions that Homer’s art raises about the responsibility of artists who work in periods riven by war and conflict.

Winter-Quarters in Camp - Inside of a Hut (Harper's Weekly)
© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Co-curated by Ethan W. Lasser, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American Art and Head of the Division of European and American Art; and Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums.

Support for this exhibition was provided by the Bolton Fund for American Art, Gift of the Payne Fund; and the Henry Luce Foundation Fund for the American Art Department. Exhibition-related programming is made possible by the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund.

Related Exhibition
Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter’s Journey, 1869-1880 is on view at the Cape Ann Museum August 3–December 1, 2019.

Tags: american art

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