Sunshine and Shadow, Prout's Neck

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Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

Sunshine and Shadow, Prout's Neck, 1894

Watercolor, with rewetting and blotting, over graphite, on thick, rough-textured, ivory wove paper
385 x 546 mm
Signed recto, lower left, in brush and black watercolor: "Winslow Homer 1894"
Inscribed verso, upper left, in graphite: "25 813"; upper left, in blue pencil: "16"; upper center, in blue pencil crossed out in graphite: "No 3"
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1253

As its title implies, Sunshine and Shadow, Prout’s Neck explores a specific effect of light on the sea. This watercolor places the viewer on the rocky Maine shore among the scrub and juniper bushes, the latter rendered in fluid black strokes with an elegance of gesture comparable to Japanese calligraphy. Despite Homer's stated antipathy to the straight horizon line, the artist’s 1894 group of reductive Prout's Neck watercolors focuses on the horizon as a locus of beauty. Accordingly, Homer started work on Sunshine and Shadow by making a tick mark in pencil at the center of the paper. He created the effect of the sun by leaving the bare white of the paper for the brightest areas of illumination. In contrast, heavy, gray-blue clouds throw their shadows over large expanses of dark water. The artist appears to have laid down his washes quickly and fluidly. The effect is contemplative and uplifting, yet it hints at a darker side of nature.

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. 42.

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

Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Institute, "Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent: An Exhibition of Water Colors," November 1–27, 1917, cat. 10; also traveled to the Cleveland Museum of Art, November 30–December 31, 1917; the Toledo Museum of Art, January 1918; the Detroit Museum of Art, February 2–28, 1918; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, March 1918; the Milwaukee Art Institute, April 1918; the City Art Museum of St. Louis, May 5–26, 1918; and the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, New York, June 6–July 7, 1918.

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. 194.

Paris, Hotel de la Chambre Syndicale de la Curiosité et des Beaux Arts, "Exposition d'Art Americain," May 18–June 25, 1923, p. 40, cat. 16.

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. 8.

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. 906.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, p. 70, cat. 488.

New York, Knoedler and Company, "Winslow Homer: Artist," January 20–February 8, 1936, cat. 10.

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. 23, cat. 64.

The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, "Winslow Homer to Present Day Chicago," November 29–December 20, 1941, cat. 7.

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, Whitney Museum of American Art, "Winslow Homer," April l3–June 3, 1973, p. 140, cat. 137, 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.

Rochester, N.Y., The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, "Winslow Homer in the 1890's: Prout's Neck Observed," August 18–October 21, 1990, pp. 126–127, cat. 20, pl. 32, cat. by Philip C. Beam et al; also traveled to The Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Ill., November 17, 1990–January 13, 1991; the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, February 8–May 27, 1991; and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., June 22–September 2, 1991.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 120, 121 (ill.), 125, 132, 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. 2397.

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

Ruth L. Benjamin, “American Art Through Foreign Eyes,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 25: 927 (May 1944), pp. 305 and 309, fig. 4.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), p. 286, fig. CL–119.

Tedeschi, Martha, et al. John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism. Chicago, New Haven and London: The Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Press, 2010, repr. fig. 8, p. 23-25.

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.