"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.
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)
Gift of Harvey Isbitts
This item is not on view
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 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1998.105.198_bw.jpg)
overall, 1998.105.198_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.