Few outside his native USA will be familiar with the artist Winslow Homer, said Waldemar Januszczak in The Sunday Times. Our national collection contains not a single “significant painting” of his, and if he is known at all on these shores, it is as a “boat painter” whose work is but a footnote in the story of 19th century art.

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Yet in America, Homer (1836-1910) is a totemic figure – and, as this “compelling” exhibition at the National Gallery demonstrates, he is venerated for good reason. A largely self-taught artist, he was a singular painter with “a talent for storytelling” and a knack for injecting his canvases with an overwhelming drama that makes the work of his British contemporaries look fussy and affected by comparison.

The show brings together a stunning selection of his work, from the awe-inspiring seascapes for which he is best known, to paintings depicting the plight of freed slaves in the Bible Belt, to “everyday scenes” of 19th century American life. It gives us a picture of a pioneering artist with a refreshingly ambiguous outlook, a painter who “knew how to trigger interest and keep you guessing”. The aim of this “involving” display is “to enlarge Homer’s transatlantic reputation”, and it deserves to succeed.

Appeal of conflict and danger

Born into a “well-to-do New England family”, Homer established himself chronicling the Civil War as an illustrator-correspondent for Harper’s Weekly magazine, said Alastair Sooke in The Daily Telegraph. Clearly, conflict and danger appealed to him as subject matter: “he loved painting guns, shipwrecks, hunting scenes, freakish waves”. A transformative moment came during a stay in – of all places – a …read more

Source:: The Week – All news


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