Prout's Neck, Evening

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Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

Prout's Neck, Evening, c. 1894

Watercolor, with rewetting and blotting, over traces of graphite, on thick, rough-textured, ivory wove paper (top edge trimmed)
359 x 536 mm
Signed recto, lower right, in graphite: "W.H."
Inscribed verso, center, in graphite: "Prouts Neck, Evening"; center top edge, in graphite: "4"; upper center, in blue pencil crossed out in graphite: "No 7"
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1249

Although undated, Prout’s Neck, Evening probably belongs to a group of unusually reductive watercolors Homer painted in Maine in 1894. In its near abstraction and reliance on subtle color gradations, this watercolor and others in this group suggest that Homer may have looked closely at traditional Japanese ink paintings. Tranquil in mood, the image is divided nearly in half by the horizon line, with the gray-blue sea and sky reflecting each other, separated only by bare white paper and a wet wash of bright blue along the horizon. Homer emphasized the calm sea by applying color in broad, even washes.

Laying a flat wash is a fundamental technique for depicting sky and water in a landscape painting. After crossing the length of the sheet with his brush, which is loaded with color, the painter starts back in the other direction, touching the top of the brush to the bottom of the previous stroke so the wet washes merge evenly. Controlled speed is essential: if the first stroke is allowed to dry, a hard line appears and the strokes will not blend. Once the wash dries, subsequent washes can be laid over it, which is how Homer built up tone in the sea.

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. 10, cat. 51.

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. 192.

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. 4.

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. 903.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, p. 69, cat. 483.

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.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Institute, "Centenary Exhibition of Works by Winslow Homer," January 28–March 7, 1937, p. 28, cat. 128.

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. 126, 127 (ill.), 132, 176, 209, 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. 2393.

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–115.

Philip C. Beam et al., Winslow Homer in the 1890s: Prout’s Neck Observed (New York, 1990), p. 126.

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 [stamp (not in Lugt), verso, in purple ink: M.K. & CO.//W.C. No….1028-], to Martin A. Ryerson (1856–1932), Chicago, November 11, 1915; given to the Art Institute, 1933.