Winslow Homer and The Critics

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Snap The Whip

The critics are, in fact, irrelevant to this œuvre of definition. There are only images contained within passages of classical beauty (the sky and hills of Snap The Whip, say). Homer's only intention is to "fix vertigos," create a definite statement. That sunlit sail, the glowing stove, the perfect geometry, are asseverations and anchors around which a picture is built. Add a figure correctly observed, with an expression understood, and place it, say, fishing at a weir, and you have Homer's fresh observations.

Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)

Moonlight on the Water


Every painting, for him, is a set of problems he sets himself or finds. The sparks flying up from a campfire are definitely traced and painted with the same precision and authority as moonlight in a river, the one with a fine orange brush and the other with swashes of white.

A girl sitting on a wall creates the torment of elongated thighs and foreshortened feet suffering critics complain of. "Damnably ugly" says Henry James, whose braces snapped at the sight of these pictures, to all appearances.