About this artwork
By the time Homer first began visiting the Adirondacks in the 1870s, commercial logging operations in the region were beginning to destroy large tracts of forest and to clog the rivers. He acutely observed and recorded these events in his watercolors, rarely passing explicit judgment. In The Rapids, Hudson River, Adirondacks, the artist combined themes of fishing and logging. On first encounter, this watercolor is peaceful and intimate, a virtuoso study of the movement of the river’s surface over partially submerged rocks. Long, painterly strokes of black watercolor over layers of blue describe the depth and speed of the water, while areas of bright white paper have been revealed by scraping to indicate the bubbling froth of whitewater rapids. It is only along the far bank that one becomes aware of the presence of man in this tranquil landscape, implied by the clean-cut logs lying haphazardly along the rocky bank. Even more subtle is Homer’s suggestion of a fisherman’s presence, indicated by the leaping fish at river’s edge, where the artist used his knife blade to sketch the serpentine motion of a fishing line in mid-cast. The fisherman is invisible, yet we are made to understand that the presence of human beings alters nature profoundly.
Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Winslow Homer
- The Rapids, Hudson River, Adirondacks
- United States
- Transparent watercolor, with traces of opaque watercolor, blotting, and scraping, over graphite, on thick, rough-textured, ivory wove paper
- Signed recto, lower left, in pen and brown ink: "Hudson River/June 1894 W.H." Inscribed verso, center, in graphite: "M.K.W.C. 1018-//The Rapids, Hudson River Adirondacks"
- 384 × 546 mm
- Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection