The Watcher, Tynemouth

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Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

The Watcher, Tynemouth, 1882

Transparent and opaque watercolor, with rewetting, blotting, and scraping, heightened with gum glaze, over graphite, on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper (all edges trimmed)
213 x 377 mm
Signed recto, lower right, in blue-black watercolor: "Homer"; in brown-black watercolor: "82"

Inscribed verso, center, in graphite: "M.K.W.C. 1012-//Tynemouth, the Watcher"
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1255

During his sojourn in England, from 1881 to 1882, Homer settled in the small fishing village of Cullercoats, located about two miles from the city of Tynemouth. He often drew and painted the women of the village, as they watched and waited on the shore, eyes always trained on the frequently treacherous sea. The Watcher, Tynemouth emphasizes the woman's loneliness and anxiety as she faces the raw forces of nature. Homer chose to represent the woman with her back to the viewer. She is clad in dark blue and reddish-brown clothing, and her face is obscured by a headscarf, so as to shield her from probing eyes. The muted palette of this watercolor—overcast blue-gray sky, murky green and blue waves—exaggerates the stark whiteness of the foamy caps on the waves. Their peaks punctuate the horizon line, as do the sails of the two boats in the distance.

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. 35.

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. 204.

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. 15.

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. 908.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, p. 70, cat. 489.

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. 53.

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.

Evanston, Ill., Terra Museum of American Art, "Five American Masters of Watercolor," May 5–July 12, 1981, p. 5 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, "The Broad Spectrum: Color on Paper, Past and Present," September 12–October 31, 1999.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 92, 103, 104, 105 (ill.), 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. 2399.

Theodore Bolton, “Water Colors by Homer: Critique and Catalogue,” The Fine Arts 18: 5 (April 1932), p. 50.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), p. 286, fig. CL–121.

Tony Harrison, Winslow Homer in England, 3rd edition (Ocean Park, 2004), p. 117, fig. E127.

Megan Holloway Fort, “Current and coming,” The Magazine Antiques 173: 2 (February 2008), pp. 14 (ill.).

Alan G. Artner, “Incidental Companions,” Chicago Tribune (February 17, 2008) (ill.).

“Highlights,” Antiques and Fine Art 8: 4 (Spring 2008), p. 30 (ill.).

Robert M. Poole, “Hidden Depths,” Smithsonian Magazine 39: 2 (May 2008), p. 90.

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.