About This Artwork

Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

The Return, Tynemouth, 1881

Transparent watercolor, with touches of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting, and scraping, heightened with gum glaze, over graphite, on moderately thick, moderately-textured, ivory wove paper (left and lower edges trimmed)
342 x 343 mm
Signed recto, lower right, in black watercolor: "Homer/1881"
Inscribed verso, center, in graphite: "M.K.W.C. 1009-//The Return, Tynemouth"

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1251R

During Homer's sojourn in England from 1881 to 1882, he rented a studio on a cliff overlooking Cullercoats Harbor, where he observed the comings and goings of fishing boats. The Return, Tynemouth depicts two fishermen who have arrived on shore in early morning. Because this watercolor was painted with light-fast pigments, it retains the pale, orange-pink washes that have faded from many of the extant watercolors he painted with fugitive red pigments; for this reason, it offers a more complete idea of his developing powers in decorative color. Homer's study of the British Library's drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael during this 1881-82 trip to England may have improved his skill for rendering figures in motion, which are emphasized here by the artist's graphite underdrawing.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, The Museum of the Brooklyn Institute, "Water Colors by Winslow Homer," October 16–November 7, 1915, p. 8, cat. 32.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Twenty Water Colors by Winslow Homer, Martin Ryerson Collection," January 5–June 16, 1916, no cat.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Institute, "Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent: An Exhibition of Water Colors," November 1–27, 1917, cat. 7; also traveled to the Cleveland Museum of Art, November 30–December 31, 1917; the Toledo Museum of Art, January 1918; the Detroit Museum of Art, February 2–28, 1918; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, March 1918; the Milwaukee Art Institute, April 1918; the City Art Museum of St. Louis, May 5–26, 1918; and the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, New York, June 6–July 7, 1918.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer Lent by Martin A. Ryerson," October 1–26, 1920, no cat.

Muskegon, Mich., Hackley Art Gallery, "Watercolors and Drawings by Winslow Homer, Lent by Martin Ryerson," May 9–June 20, 1921, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer, Martin Ryerson Collection," July–September, 1921, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "The Second International Water Color Exhibition," April 15–May 21, 1922, p. 20, cat. 206.

Omaha Society of Fine Arts, December 26, 1924–February 3, 1925, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer from the Collection of Martin A. Ryerson," April 1926, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer from the Collection of Martin A. Ryerson," July–Fall, 1926, no cat.

The Buffalo Fine Art Academy, Albright Art Gallery, "An Important Group of Paintings in Oil and Water Color by Winslow Homer: Loaned by The Art Institute of Chicago," December 15, 1929–January 6, 1930, cat. 3.

City Art Museum of St. Louis, "Water Colors by Winslow Homer Lent by the Art Institute of Chicago," December 15, 1932–January 15, 1933, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Homer Centenary," July 16–August 16, 1936, no cat.

Indianapolis, Ind., John Herron Art Institute, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer Lent by the Art Institute of Chicago," November 1–December 15, 1936, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Twenty-Two Watercolors by Winslow Homer," April 13–May 14, 1944 (Gallery G59), no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Water Colors and Drawings by Winslow Homer," October 14–December 4, 1944 (Gallery 13), no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 92, 94, 95 (ill.), 96, 103, 207, cat. by Martha Tedeschi and Kristi Dahm.

Publication History

“Knoedler Firm Buys 21 Winslow Homers,” New York Herald (November 19, 1915).

“Notes,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 10: 2 (February 1916), p. 143.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1925), p. 164, no. 2395.

Theodore Bolton, “Water Colors by Homer: Critique and Catalogue,” The Fine Arts 18: 5 (April 1932), p. 50.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), p. 286, figs. CL–117a and CL–117b.

Tony Harrison, Winslow Homer in England, 3rd edition (Ocean Park, 2004), pp. 96 and 123, figs. E78 and E141 (ills. recto and verso).

William Mullen, “Beneath the Color, Secrets of an Artist,” Chicago Tribune (February 29, 2008) (ill.).

Ownership History

The artist to his brother, Charles S. Homer, Jr. (1834–1917), New York, by 1910 [according to correspondence from Abigail Booth Gerdts to the Art Institute, February 10, 2007]. Charles W. Gould (1849–1931), New York, by 1915 [Brooklyn exh. cat. 1915]. Sold by Knoedler and Company, New York, to Martin A. Ryerson (1856–1932), Chicago, November 11, 1915 [invoice]; given to the Art Institute, 1933.




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