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In Came a Storm of Wind, Rain and Spray--and Portia

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 in Brittany. Meanwhile, Susan's greedy, willful friend Portia is staying at a fashionable summer resort nearby. As a ploy to spend more time with Josselin, her forbidden lover, Portia arranges a boating party. For various reasons, all but Josselin beg off the trip, and Portia whiles away the day in the boat alone with him. As evening falls, a raging storm hits. The scene portrayed here shows Portia, breathless from a farewell kiss from Josselin, welcomed to safety by her relieved and annoyed aunt. Homer took obvious delight in drawing Portia's fashionable costume. The gusts of wind make the voluminous material difficult to control and the fabric’s irregular, angular shapes express Portia’s agitated, uncontrollable emotions.

MEDIUM Wood engraving
DATES 1869
DIMENSIONS Image: 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 in. (16.5 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)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Harvey Isbitts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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