Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Williamstown, MA



Winslow Homer: Works on Paper


They are among the most popular images in the Clark collection, yet watercolors and other works on paper by American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910) are almost never on public view. Like all works on paper, they spend most of their time in storage for reasons of preservation. This summer and fall, however, visitors will get a rare glimpse of these works in the special exhibition Winslow Homer: Works on Paper, on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute now through October 31, 1999. Seventeen watercolors, drawings, and etchings trace Homer' s career from his early images of idealized young women to powerful late works representing men and women struggling with the sea. (left: A Good Pool, Saguenay River, watercolor over pencil, Copyright, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute)

Visitors to the Clark are very familiar with the Institute's oil paintings by Homer, including Undertow, West Point. Prout's Neck, and Saco Bay, which regularly hang in the Clark's American gallery. However, founders Sterling and Francine Clark avidly collected Homer's work in all media, including watercolors, prints, and drawings. Works like October Day, The Osprey's Nest, and Fish and Butterflies are among the most recognizable Homers in the collection, widely published and in great demand for traveling exhibitions, and visitors often inquire about them. Paper is a fragile medium, however, and works on paper can only be exposed for brief, infrequent periods in order to preserve them for future generations. (right: Beach Scene, Cullercoats, watercolor, Copyright, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute)

Winslow Homer: Works on Paper begins with some of the artist's first efforts in watercolor. Pictures of young farm women at leisure, such as Summer and Feeding Time, have led many to credit Homer with inventing the image of the "quintessential American Girl" of the 1870s. Another group of works represent his 1881 trip to Cullercoats, a fishing village on the English coast, where he captured the routines of the community and the power of the sea in his drawings and watercolors. Adirondack watercolors, including A Good Pool, Saguenay River, demonstrate Homer's nostalgic return to the wilderness with hunting scenes that illustrate a masculine but still picturesque world.

The final section in the exhibition focuses on Homer's etchings depicting the struggle between people and the sea. The subjects of the etchings The Life Line and Saved are dramatic rescues of drowning women. Rescue is also the theme of the etching Undertow, a study for the great painting of the same name on view in the Clark's American painting gallery.

The exhibition was organized for the Clark by Jennifer Greenhill and Catherine Steward, both students in the Williams College/Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in the History of Art. The two will give tours of their exhibition at 2:00 p.m, on Saturday, September 18, September 25, October 2, and October 16. The tours are free with admission to the galleries.

Accompanying Winslow Homer: Works on Paper is a large selection of Homer oil paintings in the nearby American paintings gallery.


Read more about the Clark Art Institute in the Resource Library

For further biographical information on Winslow Homer please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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