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Fresh Air

Winslow Homer

American Art

Winslow Homer, who rose to national prominence in the 1860s for his magazine illustrations and oil paintings of modern American life, took up watercolor in the 1870s. Fresh Air is one of the most ambitious of an early series of plein air watercolors depicting fancifully dressed shepherdesses that Homer made at Houghton Farm, a patron’s country estate in upstate New York. He created brilliant effects of light and atmosphere by exploiting the natural transparency of the medium and the brightness of the white paper. To achieve the subtle coloration in the sky, he applied overlapping washes of grays, pinks, and blues and then blotted them together.
MEDIUM Watercolor heightened with white opaque watercolor, with scraping and selectively applied glaze, over charcoal on moderately thick, rough-textured wove paper
DATES 1878
DIMENSIONS 20 1/16 x 14 in. (51 x 35.6 cm) Frame: 30 x 24 x 1 1/2 in. (76.2 x 61 x 3.8 cm)
SIGNATURE Signed and dated lower right: "Winslow Homer / 1878"
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
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