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"She Turned Her Face to the Window"

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 drew five illustrations for the serialized novel, Beechdale, by Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune (writing under the pseudonym Marion Harland). The novel is a romantic tale centering on duty, false love, and moral conflict. The young heroine, Jessie, is depicted recovering from a sprained foot and dreamily listening to an address given by Roy Fordham beyond the open window. She is interrupted from her happy reveries about Roy (to whom she is secretly engaged) by the arrival of his cousin, Orrin Wyllys. After polite conversation, “she turned her face to the window.” Homer’s drawing, emphasizing mood in favor of narrated events, forecast his paintings of the early 1870s featuring contemplative women positioned near windows, symbolizing access to the world beyond domesticity.
MEDIUM Wood engraving
DATES 1868
DIMENSIONS Image: 4 7/8 x 7 in. (12.4 x 17.8 cm) Sheet: 5 3/4 x 8 5/8 in. (14.6 x 21.9 cm) Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Harvey Isbitts
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Page from The Galaxy, May, 1868, vol. V, opposite p. 581 Drawn by Winslow Homer, engraved by E. Sears
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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