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"I Call Them My Children--To Myself, Susan"

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.

Homer was commissioned to create five illustrations for the serialized novel, Susan Fielding. Rooted in contrasts between city and country, wealth and poverty, virtue and duplicity, the novel is full of romantic intrigue. Orphaned and impoverished, Susan comes under the care of her elderly Uncle Adam, who shows her his garden behind the small cottage that is now her home in a rural French village. It is the only spot of beauty in his Spartan life, and the brilliant color of the flowers reminds Susan of her own lackluster existence. Uncle Adam’s loneliness is underscored in his wistful comment about his blooms, “I call them my children—to myself—Susan.”

MEDIUM Wood engraving
DATES 1869
DIMENSIONS Image: 7 x 4 1/2 in. (17.8 x 11.4 cm) Sheet: 9 1/4 x 5 3/4 in. (23.5 x 14.6 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS Lower left, below image: "Drawn by Winslow Homer."
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of Harvey Isbitts
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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CAPTION Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910). "I Call Them My Children--To Myself, Susan," 1869. Wood engraving, Image: 7 x 4 1/2 in. (17.8 x 11.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Harvey Isbitts, 1998.105.137
IMAGE overall, 1998.105.137_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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"I Call Them My Children--To Myself, Susan"