About This Artwork

Winslow Homer
American, 1836–1910

Croquet Scene, 1866

Oil on canvas
40.3 x 66.2 cm (15 7/8 x 26 1/16 in.)
Signed, lower right: "WINSLOW HOMER/-66-"

Friends of American Art Collection; Goodman Fund, 1942.35

One of America’s foremost painters, Winslow Homer began his career as an illustrator during the Civil War. In the late 1860s, he turned his acute observational and technical skills toward oil painting, depicting figures bathed in sunlight out-of-doors. These early paintings, often executed in series, feature scenes of upper-class leisure pursuits—in this case, women and men competing with one another in the popular sport of croquet, which had recently been introduced to the United States from the British Isles. In Croquet Scene, one of five paintings Homer completed on the subject, progress on “the grand round” seems fairly advanced. The crouching male figure positions the ball belonging to the woman dressed in red. She is about to croquet (or “send up the country”) another ball, probably belonging to the woman in the left foreground, who shields her eyes against the bright afternoon sun. Notable for its bold patterning, strong contours, and brilliant light effects, the painting epitomizes the spirit of a breezy summer afternoon.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Macbeth Gallery, An Introduction to Homer, Dec. 15-Jan. 18, 1937, cat. 69.

New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Life in America, cat. 217.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Sport in American Art, Oct. 10-Dec. 10, 1944, cat. 56.

Utica, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Paintings by Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins, Dec. 1-Jan. 19, 1947, cat. 10.

Northampton, Mass., Smith College Museum of Art, Winslow Homer: Illustrator, Feb.1951; traveled to Williamstown, Mass., Lawrence Art Museum, Williams College, cat. 30.

Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Barnsdall Park, The American Scene 1710-1940, Apr. 17-May 6, 1956.

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Winslow Homer, A Retrospective Exhibition, Nov. 23, 1958-Jan. 4, 1959, cat. 9; traveled to New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jan. 29-Mar. 8, 1959; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mar.-May 1959.

New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, Winslow Homer: The Croquet Game, April 18-June 24, 1984; traveled to Washington D.C., Corcoran Gallery, July 14-September 16, 1984; Buffalo, New York, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, September 29-November 25, 1984; Art Institute of Chicago, December 8, 1984-February 3, 1985; New York, National Academy of Design, March 7-May 5, 1985, cat. 29.

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Winslow Homer, Oct. 15, 1995-Jan. 28, 1996; traveled to Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Feb. 21-May 26, 1996, New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 17-Sept. 22, 1996.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, "American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915," October 12, 2009-January 24, 2010; traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 28-May 23, 2010.

Publication History

M. Bruening, “Current Exhibitions,” Parnassus 9 (Jan. 1937), pp. 32-34 (ill.).

Magazine of Art 32 (June 3, 1939), p. 331 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report for the Year, 1941- 1942 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1942), p. 7, ill. p. 139.

J. Walker et al., Great American Painting from Smibert to Bellows, 1729-1924 (Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 59 (ill.).

Art Digest 17 (Feb. 15, 1943), p. 16 (ill.).

Frederick Sweet, “Croquet Scene by Winslow Homer,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 37 (Dec. 1943), pp. 98-99 (ill.).

Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer (MacMillan Company, 1944), pl. 7.

Lloyd Goodrich, “Young Winslow Homer,” Magazine of Art 37 (Feb. 1944), pp. 58-63 (ill.).

Henry-Russell Hitchcock, “American Painting at the Art Institute,” Art Institute Quarterly 45 (Sept. 15, 1951), ill. p. 47 and detail ill. on cover.

Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer (New York: George Braziller, 1959), pl. 6.

Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago,1961), p. 218, ill. p. 378.

Albert Ten Eyck, Winslow Homer, American Artists: His World and His Work (New York, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1961), p. 101 (ill.).

Time 79 (Jan. 12, 1962), ill.

H. Ingalls, “Elements in the Development of Winslow Homer,” Art Journal 24 (Fall 1964), pp. 18-22, ill. p. 331.

Richard McLanathan, The American Tradition in the Arts (Harcourt Brace and World, Inc., 1968), p. 168 (ill.).

Barbara Novak, American Painting of the Nineteenth Century (Praeger, 1969), p. 168 (ill.).

John Shapley, ed., The Index of Twentieth Century Artists 4 (New York, College Art Association, 1934) vol. 1; reprint ed., (New York:,Arno Press, 1970), pp. 24-37, 56-60.

Pierre Courthion, Impressionism, trans. by John Shapley (Harry N. Abrams, 1972), p. 110 (ill.).

Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer, exh. cat., (Whitney Museum of American Art / New York Graphic Society Ltd., 1973), p. 55 (ill.).

John Wilmerding, ed., The Genius of American Painting (New York, William Morrow & Company, 1973), p. 1973 (ill.).

Sharah B. Sherrill, “Current and Coming: Winslow Homer Retrospective,” Antiques 103 (Apr. 1973), p. 602 (ill.).

Lois Fink, “American Artists in France, 1850-1870,” American Art Journal 5 (Nov. 1973), pp. 32-49 (ill.).

Milton W. Brown, American Art to 1900 (Abrams, 1977), p. 571, no. 69.

Art Institute of Chicago, Department of Museum Education, Comments on Selected Paintings in the Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, prelim. ed., 1965, p. 34.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1970), p. 265.

Art Institute of Chicago, One Hundred Masterpieces, (R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company, 1978), p. 88 (ill.).

“The Collections-American Arts” Chicago History 8 (Spring 1979) pp. 34-36 (ill.).

Pocketguide to The Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1983), p. 37, no. 50.

David Park Curry, Winslow Homer, The Croquet Game (Yale University Press, 1984), no. 20.

Tom Armstrong, “The New Field-McCormick Galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Magazine Antiques 134, 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 822-35, pl. XI.

Master Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago (Little, Brown, and Company, 1988), p. 84 (ill.).

Milo M. Naeve, “The Edwardian Era and Patrons of American Art at The Art Institute of Chicago: The Birth of a Tradition,” America’s International Exposition of Fine Arts and Antiques (Lakeside Group, 1988), p. 22, fig. 3.

Marvin D. Schwartz, “The Art Institute’s New Wing,” Antiques and the Arts Weekly (Nov. 4, 1988), pp. 1, 60-62 (ill.).

Jules D. Prown, “Winslow Homer in His Art,” Smithsonian Studies in American Art 1, 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 31-36, no. 8.

Stuart Klawans, “The Art Institute of Chicago at the Crossroads of America,” Business Week, Special Advertising Section, 3180 (Oct. 1, 1990), pp. 81-118, ill. p. 115.

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998).

Mark Sidwell, U.S. History Student Textbook, 3rd edition, (Bob Jones University Press, 2001), ill.

Judith A. Barter et al, The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2011), no. 1.

Ownership History

William Sumner Appleton, Boston, from 1871 to 1903; by descent to William Sumner Appleton, Jr., Boston, from 1903. C.C. Childes, Boston, by 1941; sold to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1942.

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