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  • Winslow Homer
    Feb 24, 1836 - Sep 29, 1910
  • Hurricane, Bahamas - 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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Hurricane, Bahamas
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  • Hurricane, Bahamas

  • Winslow Homer
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  • 1898
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, United States.

    Homer’s attention to inclement weather in this watercolor distinguishes it from the more idyllic tropical images he produced during a previous trip to the Bahamas, in 1884–85. Dark clouds threaten, while several tall palms are lashed by violent winds. As was his tendency, the artist acknowledged the archipelago’s status as a Crown colony—signaled here at bottom center with the Red Ensign, a flag flown by British ships. This detail combined with the tempestuous weather may evoke the geopolitical turmoil elsewhere in the Caribbean that year, specifically in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The weather events depicted here and in Homer’s images of storms off the coast of Maine represent important precursors to the turbulence of The Gulf Stream.

    Palm trees are used in the background to communicate the activity that the artist would have experienced at the time. Wind would sweep around this environment as the hurricane passed by. Dark clouds can be seen in the distance, adding to this feeling of menace to the local community who patiently hide within their homes below. Homer chooses an unusual compositional style here, with homes cropped in half, leaving our full focus on what occurs above. The small houses are tightly packed together, as if congregated together for protection. We can spot a small slither of sea to the left hand side but the horizon is delberately placed at a low level, giving the sky much more room within this painting. The angle of the palms would suggest that the strong wind is coming in from our left hand side, but hurricanes tend to be a little more varied in direction than everyday wind would be. Homer became interested in hurricanes and other types of storms in the latter part of his career, often depicting shipwrecks as well.

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Other paintings by Winslow Homer:

The Herring Net
The Herring Net
The Portage
The Portage
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
The West Wind
The West Wind
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.