A Garden in Nassau, 1885
Transparent watercolor, with touches of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting and scraping, over graphite, on thick, moderately textured, ivory wove paper
14 1/2 x 21 in. (36.8 x 53.3 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 151.2005
During Homer’s first visit to the Bahamas in the winter of 1884-85, he painted more than 30 watercolors. He was particularly interested in the activities of the local population rather than the tourist sites recommended in contemporary guidebooks. A Garden in Nassau depicts a young boy standing outside a coral limestone wall that surrounds an unseen home.
Infrared examination of A Garden in Nassau reveals that the watercolor originally included two older boys perched atop the wall to the left of the wooden gate; they were attempting to reach the clustered coconuts on the other side. In this original composition, the small child standing in the path may have been stationed as a lookout for the two older children. Once the two figures were removed, the role of this youngster changed. In the final scene, focus is on the child’s wistful longing for forbidden fruit.