Prout's Neck, Breaking Wave

View enlargement
Zoom image
Email to a friend
Print this page

Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

Prout's Neck, Breaking Wave, 1887

Transparent watercolor, with touches of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting and scraping, over resist and traces of graphite, on medium weight, moderately textured, ivory wove paper, laid down on cream wove paper
380 x 544 mm
Signed recto, lower left, in black watercolor: "Homer/1887"
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1248

Philip Beam has identified the site for Prout’s Neck, Breaking Wave as “the shoreline a little above water’s edge in the vicinity of Cannon Rock, looking toward High Cliff,” adding that Homer “fished from this point almost daily during the summer and fall and must have seen such waves "a thousand times" (Beam 1966, n.p.). Homer’s familiarity with the site is born out by the techniques that he used to capture the relentless churning movement of the massive wave. Although he used very little graphite in this work, he mapped out the frothy whites of the wave by making staccato marks with resist, probably using chalk for this purpose. Homer used almost every trick he knew to achieve the varied textures of water, shore, and sky, including layering, blotting, rewetting, and scraping. Although carefully planned and carried out, the final effect is vigorous and immediate.

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. 36.

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.

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. 193.

Paris, Hotel de la Chambre Syndicale de la Curiosité et des Beaux Arts, "Exposition d'Art Americain," May 18–June 25, 1923, p. 39, cat. 11.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Institute, "Water Colors by Winslow Homer," September 9–October 26, 1923, p. 14, cat. 12.

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. 1.

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. 93, cat. 902.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, p. 69, cat. 482.

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.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, "Winslow Homer," May 2–June 8, 1936, cat. 38.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Institute, "Centenary Exhibition of Works by Winslow Homer," January 28–March 7, 1937, p. 23, cat. 62.

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.

Lake Forest, Ill., Durand Art Institute, Lake Forest College, "A Century of American Painting: Masterpieces Loaned by The Art Institute of Chicago," June 10–16, 1957, cat. 8.

New York, Wildenstein and Company, "Master Drawings from The Art Institute of Chicago," October 17–November 30 1963, n.p., cat. 137.

Brunswick, Maine, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, "Winslow Homer at Prout’s Neck," July 8–September 4, 1966, cat. 7 (ill.).

Palm Beach, Fla., The Society of the Four Arts, "Drawings from The Art Institute of Chicago," January 5–27, 1974, cat. 26.

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, "The Natural Paradise: Painting in America 1800–1850," October 1–November 30, 1976, p. 26, cat. 78 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 112, 113 (ill.), 123, 125, 209, 210, cat. by Martha Tedeschi and Kristi Dahm.

Portland, ME, Portland Museum of Art, "Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine", September 22 - December 30, 2012, p. 136-137, pl. 10, 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. 2391.

Theodore Bolton, “Water Colors by Homer: Critique and Catalogue,” The Fine Arts 18: 5 (April 1932), p. 52.

Philip C. Beam, Winslow Homer at Prout’s Neck (Boston, 1966), pp. 61-62, fig. 11.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), p. 286, fig. CL–114.

Philip C. Beam et al., Winslow Homer in the 1890s: Prout’s Neck Observed (New York, 1990), p. 88.

Judith Walsh, “A Summer’s Pleasure: Incoming Tide, Scarboro, Maine by Winslow Homer,” The American Art Journal 25: 1 and 2 (1993), pp. 67 and 71, fig. 9.

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.