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Homeward Bound

Winslow Homer

American Art

Regarded as one of the great American Realists of the nineteenth century, Winslow Homer is known primarily for his large body of works in oil and watercolor. However, he also had an early career as a freelance illustrator, making drawings for wood engravings that were reproduced in mass-circulation periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly. In 1998, the Brooklyn Museum received a generous gift of more than 250 wood-engraved illustrations by Homer from Harvey Isbitts.

This engraving was doubtless inspired by Homer’s own Atlantic crossing when he returned to the United States from Europe in the fall of 1867. Choppy seas on such ocean voyages frequently caused the ship to roll to vertiginous angles, turning the daily stroll on deck into a test of balance. Homer employed a bold and very modern compositional design to accentuate the sense of movement and instability. Not only does the deck itself tilt downward to the left, but it is also presented in radical perspective that swiftly carries the eye toward a vanishing point at the distant end of the ship. The immediacy of the moment and the sensation that nothing is fixed are reinforced by the abrupt cropping of the two seated women in the foreground.

MEDIUM Wood engraving
DATES 1867
DIMENSIONS Image: 13 5/8 x 20 1/2 in. (34.6 x 52.1 cm) Sheet: 15 3/4 x 22 in. (40 x 55.9 cm) Frame: 1 1/2 x 22 3/4 x 28 3/4 in. (3.8 x 57.8 x 73 cm)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Harvey Isbitts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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