"A Youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, / A banner with the strange device, Excelsior"
Homer was often commissioned to illustrate the work of such respected contemporary authors as Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Their poems frequently appeared in gift books, which were usually decorative, deluxe editions of poetry or a single poem that were published each autumn for the Christmas season. The four illustrations for Excelsior on view here were also published the same year as Homer’s contribution for the gift book Christmastide. The highly symbolic poem about the tragic end of youthful genius driven by the irresistible motive to excel did not translate well into visual form and these images lack the naturalism that infuses most of Homer’s art. Here the “strange” youth of the poem sets out on his solitary Alpine climb to the heights of achievement.
- Artist: Winslow Homer, American, 1836-1910
- Engraver: Andrew Varick Stout Anthony, American, 1835 - 1906
- Medium: Wood engraving
- Dates: 1878
- Dimensions: Image: 3 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. (7.9 x 8.3 cm) Sheet: 8 1/2 x 6 in. (21.6 x 15.2 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
- Collections:American Art
- Museum Location: This item is not on view
- Accession Number: 1998.105.198
- Credit Line: Gift of Harvey Isbitts
- Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
- Caption: Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910). "A Youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, / A banner with the strange device, Excelsior," 1878. Wood engraving, Image: 3 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. (7.9 x 8.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Harvey Isbitts, 1998.105.198
- Record Completeness: Good (64%)