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Christmas Belles

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 image was not specifically related to a text except for a passing mention in the New Year’s editorial expressing the hope that “Jack Frost” would “return by Twelfth Night, and the ‘Christmas Belles’ shall yet skim the moonlit snow to the dance and the yellow glass of mulled wine.” Here a friendly race seems to take place. Speed is implied by the way that Homer has excluded the horse except for a telltale hoof and the tip of the tail, suggesting that the sleigh will soon disappear from sight as well. The two women seated in the back of the sleigh hold their scarves on high in a gesture of triumph as they gain ground against their competitors.

MEDIUM Wood engraving
DATES 1869
DIMENSIONS Sheet: 9 3/16 x 13 7/8 in. (23.3 x 35.2 cm) Frame: 16 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (42.5 x 57.8 x 3.8 cm)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Harvey Isbitts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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