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  • Winslow Homer
    Feb 24, 1836 - Sep 29, 1910
  • The Herring Net - Winslow Homer was a noted American artist during the 1800's. He is remembered for his landscapes, many featuring scenes of the sea, boats, and coastlines, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art.
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The Herring Net
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  • The Herring Net

  • Winslow Homer
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  • 1881
    Oil on canvas
    76.5 cm (30.12 in.) x 122.9 cm (48.39 in.)
    The Art Institute of Chicago, United States.

    The Herring Net is a piece of fine art painted by Winslow Homer. It consists of two fishermen on a fishing boat, struggling with the ocean waves and the caught fish.
    One of the fishermen is seated on the edge of the boat, emptying the fishnet while the other one has bent, heaving the net with shinny Herrings on to the boat. The fisherman heaving the net appears bigger and bolder than the other fisherman. Both fishermen appear to be harmonious with the fishing activity despite the turbulent situation. Themes that sum up The Herring Net are heroism, livelihood and harmony. To begin with, both fishermen have raincoats of the same color and the same design of hats. This shows they probably are from the same house. They also seem to share a mutual effort in the fishing activity. The bigger fisherman who seems older is heaving the net with the fish and the younger one is emptying the fishnet.

    It seems dark due to the blurry dark atmosphere and the dark reflection of the sea implying nighttime, perhaps dawn. The fishermen are focused on their daily fishing activity so that they can fend for themselves and their families. Winslow Homer completed painting The Herring Net in the year 1885. These were the years when Homer focused on himself as he was in solitude. In the early 1880s, Homer traveled a lot. At a time, he went to England and painted the sea. He was intrigued at the sight of struggles of the fishermen at the sea and their women who waited for them at home as they cleaned fish, mended nets and maintained the houses. He depicts the livelihood of the fishermen in most of his art.

    After Homer went back to America, the sea dominated his work greatly. At some point, the sea was the protagonist of his artistry. He traveled to and from Prouts Neck studio where he turned sketches into paintings. The Culler coat community in England had a way of style that inspired Homer’s way of artistry. The way they struggled in the sea for livelihood. Homer began focusing on the relationship humans had with nature, the battles humans had with nature for survival. The Herring Net is one of the portraits he did that depicted the battles of heroism. Even though Homer used to paint with watercolors, he used oil on canvas to paint The Herring Net. Check out the painting and the stories it harbors at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Other paintings by Winslow Homer:

The Turkey Buzzard
The Turkey Buzzard
Sponge Fishing
Sponge Fishing
Taking on Provisions
Taking on Provisions
Rab and the Girls
Rab and the Girls
Winslow HomerWinslow Homer was a noted American artist during the 1800's. He is remembered for his landscapes, many featuring scenes of the sea, boats, and coastlines.

Homer did not receive formal art training. He began his art career as an apprentice for a commercial lithographer. In the late 1850's he began doing work for Harper's Weekly. His early work for Harper's was primarily to create line art drawings from photographs. At the time pictures were printed by "stamping" them from a large wood block.

To do this, photographs had to first be converted to line art drawings by an artist. In this role, there was little room for artistic interpretation . . . the task was simply to as accurately as possible capture the details of a photograph in a drawing. As such, this work was often published without attribution to Homer. There are several examples of illustrations published which were photographs by Mathew Brady, and then converted to line art by Winslow Homer. As time progressed, Harper's began to expand Homer's role, and he was sent to events to directly create drawings. A notable example was that Homer attended Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, and created several drawings which were published by Harper's. Much of this early work could be described as accurate drawings and illustrations. He was simply capturing the image in front of him as carefully as possible.

Harper's often did not cite Winslow Homer as the artist for pictures that they published. He was sometimes referred to as their "Special Artist". However, this designation was also used for other artists as well. As such, it can be difficult to know which Harper's illustrations were done by Homer, particularly in his early years with the paper.