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Winslow Homer and the Critics:
Forging a National Art in the 1870s
Margaret C. Conrads

Hardcover | 2001 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691070995


Winslow Homer's luminous watercolor seascapes and highly spirited portraits of children and outdoorsmen are some of the most recognizable and cherished works in the history of American art. This catalogue, published in conjunction with a major traveling exhibition, examines his pictures from the 1870s, the least-studied period of this perennially popular American artist. Debunking the common myth that Homer worked in isolation, Margaret Conrads reveals him as a controversial artist who was an integral part of the dizzying New York art scene of the 1870s. Indeed, Homer was the American artist most frequently discussed by the press at this time--often with simultaneous commendation and vilification.

By viewing Homer's works of the 1870s through the lens of contemporaneous criticism, the author explains how and why the painter embodied the critics' high hopes for an art that expressed national values. She finds reflected in his vivid images an ongoing struggle to meet these expectations, even as he challenged and helped to redefine the artistic conventions governing American aesthetics.

With almost one hundred full-color plates and nearly sixty black-and-white illustrations, this handsome volume is a remarkable record of an important period not only in Winslow Homer's career but also in the fascinating art world of late-nineteenth-century America.


The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Kansas City, Missouri
February 18-May 6, 2001

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
June 10-September 9, 2001

High Museum of Art, Atlanta
October 6, 2001-January 6, 2002


"An examination of Homer that breaks new ground and brings new insight to his development into one of America's brightest artistic stars . . . It succeeds in shedding new light not only on Homer's early influences but also on the national climate that precipitated his emergence as a key figure in American art."--Library Journal


"The quality and inherent intellectual worth of this book are unquestionable. It is an extraordinary piece of work that does what few previous studies have been able to do: it shows Homer as an active participant in the critical and commercial art world of New York during the fascinating postbellum period. It is particularly good at chronicling the emergence of watercolor as a serious medium. And its survey of the entirety of the New York art press during more than a decade provides future scholars with the wherewithal to conduct previously undreamed of research into the reception of a wide variety of works of arts in the 1870s."--John Davis, Smith College, author of Landscape of Belief

Published in association with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

File created: 3/10/2015

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