Flamborough Head, England

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Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

Flamborough Head, England, 1882

Graphite and opaque white watercolor on medium thick, slightly textured, tan laid paper with red and blue fibers
452 x 609 mm
Signed recto, lower left, in graphite: "Winslow Homer 1882/Flamborough Head 1882"
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1240

Flamborough Head, England shows Maggie Storey, one of Homer's favorite models, standing resolutely upon the high chalk cliffs of Flamborough. Bearing the burden of a large basket and with her hands firmly on her hips, she is every bit the strong fisherwoman, the artist's most frequent subject during his English sojourn of 1881-82. Homer positions the viewer slightly below Storey, giving her an even nobler, more monumental presence. The greater solidity and refinement of Homer's figure drawing style was due at least in part to his study of Old Master drawings at the British Museum.

This drawing demonstrates a shift in the way that Homer used opaque white watercolor. No longer reserving it for discrete highlights, he adopted the English practice of diluting opaque white watercolor to portray mist, clouds, and the “effects of distance and atmosphere” (Cohn 1977, p. 51). The artist applied this media in broad, expressive strokes, ending them in curves to indicate wispy clouds and varying the opacity to suggest different densities. He employed a dilute wash in the lower portion of the sky, dragging the side of his brush to create a hard edge that defined the horizon.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Indianapolis, Ind., John Herron Art Institute, "Memorial Exhibition of Winslow Homer," November 15–December 12, 1911, cat. 10.

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. 207.

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. 20.

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.

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

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, "Winslow Homer Centenary Exhibition," December 15, 1936–January 15, 1937, p. 28, cat. 111.

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

Worcester Art Museum, "Winslow Homer," November 16–December 17, 1944, p. 8, cat. 92.

Washington, D.C., The National Gallery, "Winslow Homer: A Retrospective Exhibition," November 23, 1958–January 4, 1959, p. 128, cat. 205; also traveled to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January 29–March 8, 1959.

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, "Winslow Homer," April l3–June 3, 1973, pp. 32 and 142, cat. 173 (ill.), cat. by Lloyd Goodrich; also traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum, July 3–August 15, 1973; and The Art Institute of Chicago, September 8–October 21, 1973.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 17, 86, 87 (ill.), 89, cat. by Martha Tedeschi and Kristi Dahm.

Publication History

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1925), p. 164, no. 2384.

Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer (New York, 1944), pl. 22.

Albert Ten Eyck Gardner, Winslow Homer, American Artist: His World and His Work (New York, 1961), p. 136 (ill.).

Philip C. Beam, Winslow Homer at Prout’s Neck (Boston, 1966), p. 24.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., American Master Drawings and Watercolors: A History of Works on Paper from Colonial Times to the Present (New York, 1976), p. 203.

William H. Gerdts, “Winslow Homer in Cullercoats,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 36: 2 (Spring 1977), p. 26.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), pp. 161, 164, and 285, fig. CL–102.

Helen A. Cooper, Winslow Homer Watercolors, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: The National Gallery of Art, 1986), p. 120n.10.

Tony Knipe, Winslow Homer: All the Cullercoats Pictures (Sunderland, England, 1988), p. 13 (ill.).

Bruce Robertson, Reckoning with Winslow Homer: His Late Paintings and Their Influence (Cleveland, 1990), p. 57, fig. 52.

Ann Keay Beneduce, A Weekend with Winslow Homer (New York, 1993), pp. 34, 52, and 62 (ill.).

Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., and Franklin Kelly, Winslow Homer, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: The National Gallery of Art, 1995), p. 220, fig. 163.

Susan Johnson, “The Artist and the Fisherlass,” Northumbrian 72 (February–March 2003), p. 13 (ill.).

Tony Harrison, Winslow Homer in England, 3rd edition (Concord, 2004), p. 216, fig. E146.

Ownership History

Alexander W. Drake, New York, by 1911 [Indianapolis exh. cat. 1911]; sold by Alexander Drake to the Macbeth Gallery, New York; sold to Martin A. Ryerson (1856–1932), Chicago, June 1, 1917; given to the Art Institute, 1933.