Winslow Homer

U.S. 1836-1910
In the Wheat Fields 29.0594

Winslow Homer's composition, his placement of the figure, and his painting technique fit an established formula for his early figure pieces. He placed figures in the immediate foreground in a classical frieze-like arrangement, used high overhead light that defined form and created dense shadows, and massed colors. The unidentified woman seems to be a model Homer used in another of his French paintings, The Nurse, which was reproduced as an illustration for Harper's Weekly magazine. Homer also used this figure in three other works, a recycling technique that he used to save time, perhaps, in meeting the demands for his commercial illustrations. After serving a two-year apprenticeship at the lithographic firm of J.H. Bufford in Boston, Homer worked as a free-lance illustrator in New York, publishing his wood engravings in a Boston weekly and the newly founded New York magazine, Harper's Weekly. Homer then moved to New York and worked steadily for Harper's as a free-lance illustrator from 1857 until 1875. He lacked formal artistic training, apart from night classes and a month's private lessons, but in 1861 he set up a studio in New York and began to paint. The Civil War provided opportunity both for illustrations and for painting unconventional and austere images of the war and its aftermath that secured Homer's reputation as a painter of direct and honest imagery. Late in 1866 Homer traveled to Europe for the first time, spending a year in France, where, it is believed, he painted In the Wheat field.




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