Not many artists have been able to make a mark when it comes to sea-scape paintings but Winslow homer is considered to be the master of this genre. The American printmaker and landscape painter is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the 19th century. Homer made a name for himself with his marine landscapes, a subject which was seldom taken up by artists during those times and even today. Before embarking as a painter full time, Homer worked as a printmaker, editor and chief of design for a leading magazine. Prior to his calling towards sea-scapes he did a few paintings of the Civil War which coincided with his earlier foray into painting. From these paintings one can clearly see that Homer was trying to see what the war really meant for the nation and if it had learned anything from it or not. If all his strengths the best asset Homer was blessed with was his very inquisitive mind.
Winslow Homer was born in 1836 in Boston, Massachusetts into a close knit family. From his mother, who was an amateur water colorist, Homer developed a strong connection to art and throughout his career she remained a driving force for him. Many art historians state that art wasn’t the only thing Homer inherited from his mother, her sense of humor, sociable personality and sharp intelligence were also traits found in his personality directly passed on by her. His astute sense of observation of nature has led to some of the most spell binding paintings. Apart from oil paintings Homer excelled at water colors and sketching as well. After a brief period on the front line during the Civil War Homer returned to New York and then later moved to Paris for a year to gain a good understanding of European art. From then onwards the paintings of Homer featured women and children in simple walks of life, playing in the park, having a picnic to strolling along the lake. Whilst dabbling in this subject matter Homer was also expanding his mastery of water colors. It was a chance trip to England, which would also be the authors’ last trip abroad before he embarked on some of his masterpieces and his death, that Homer was intrigued with the force of the ocean. Chance observations while walking across the sandy beaches and docks exposed Homer to the sheer beauty of the ocean and its relationship with man. Whether it was man wrestling the wind and storm to haul fish nets onto a boat or roar a ship further, all fascinated Homer immensely.
For Homer on one side was the ocean – an overwhelming force to be reckoned with – and the other was Man openly challenging the ocean’s power and testing it with his own strength. This resulted in some very dramatic masterpieces like The Fog Warning, Breezing Up, Northeaster and The Gulf Stream to name a few. For Homer the sea represented brute force, beauty and drama and he managed to capture it beautifully in his paintings. Winslow Homer’s paintings are a combination of rich colored passages and vibrant compositions; they manage to make the painting look alive, almost as if one can hear the sound of the waves.