The Outlook, Maine Coast

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Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

The Outlook, Maine Coast, 1894

Transparent watercolor, with traces of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting, spatter and traces of scraping, over graphite, on moderately thick, slightly textured, ivory wove paper
354 x 505 mm
Signed recto, lower right, in brush and black watercolor: "Homer"; in brush and blue watercolor: "'94"
Inscribed verso, center, in graphite: "oxx.-//Study for Portrait Group.//M.K. 1020" [underlined]; upper center, in blue pencil: "Oct 26 1896"; upper center, in graphite: "10" [in a square]
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1246

The Outlook, Maine Coast depicts two young women bracing themselves against the wind on a high overlook at Prout’s Neck, Maine. Rather than focusing on what the women are watching, Homer chose to explore the act of looking. Homer, a keen and thoughtful observer himself, was fascinated with the experience of watching. In this watercolor, he associated visual observation with physical sensations: the feeling of strong breezes, moisture in the air, and the chill of an overcast day. Because it allowed Homer to work outdoors quickly, watercolor was the perfect medium to make these atmospheric effects tangible and immediate. In The Outlook, Maine Coast, Homer was especially successful in creating the sense of moving air. The low vantage point also contributes to the emphasis on the windy sky of gray and pink clouds.

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. 9, cat. 43.

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

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. 196.

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. 6.

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, "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1933, p. 92, cat. 900.

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.

New York, Century Association, "Paintings by Thomas Eakins, 1844–1916, and Watercolors by Winslow Homer, 1836–1910," January 10–February 25, 1951, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 130, 131 (ill.), 132, cat. by Martha Tedeschi and Kristi Dahm.

Portland, ME, Portland Museum of Art, "Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine", September 22 - December 30, 2012, p. 150-151, pl. 17, cat. by Thomas A. Denenberg

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. 2390.

Theodore Bolton, “Water Colors by Homer: Critique and Catalogue,” The Fine Arts 18: 5 (April 1932), p. 54.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), p. 286, fig. CL–112.

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 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.