When people, including many art lovers, visit art galleries and collections to view well-known painters’ works, they often think that the exhibited works are the only “good” paintings of the artist. Generally speaking, this is not true. Almost all well-known painters create works that become famous, but they also create works just as good but which, for some reason or another, always stay less famous.
This is also true regarding the famous and well-respected American painter Winslow Homer. He created hundreds of artworks, and many of them have become famous. However, he also created many other excellent paintings which are, for some reason, less famous. Interestingly, despite Homer’s recognition by art critics, Homer’s work has yet to achieve the popularity of traditional Salon pictures such as the portraits by John Singer Sargent. Many of Homer’s sea pictures took years before they were sold.
In this article, we’ll look at who Winslow Homer was and what were usually the subjects and characteristics of his paintings. Then we’ll look at two of his excellent works of art but not as well-known as many of his other works. Finally, we’ll also try to identify why these two paintings are less famous than most of his other paintings.
The Story of Winslow Homer Artist (1836-1910)
The famous artist Winslow Homer is best known for his marine subjects. But he had a very interesting life while developing from a commercial illustrator to the creator of the famous Winslow Homer seascapes.
He didn’t have the privilege of receiving formal art education, but notwithstanding, he began his career as a commercial illustrator. Later, he experimented with oil painting and created watercolors in different mediums. He even tried his hand at etching. Homer received his first lesson on how to use colors from his mother. She was a very talented watercolor artist, and he and his mother had a close relationship throughout her life. According to art critics, many of the characteristics in his mother’s works can also be found in Winslow’s works, especially her dry sense of humor and her artistic eye.
He frequented the Virginia front during the Civil War and produced unique illustrations there. They gained popularity due to their realism and ability to make the War front relatable to loved ones and friends back home. He also drew pictures of many Civil War themes, including the nurses and letter writers for the soldiers. He additionally portrayed the African American teamsters at work and at rest. These various, unique interpretations of the Civil War helped make his works popular and had an impact on his later paintings, such as the well-known Winslow Homer sea paintings.
Many art historians believe that the roots why the subjects of the later Winslow Homer artworks centered on simple farm life, rural environments, and seascapes can be found in his simple and happy childhood.
All about Winslow Homer Paintings – The not-so-famous Ones
Let’s look at Homer’s two excellent and beautiful paintings, which are less famous than most of his other works.
Children Under a Palm
“Children Under a Palm” (sometimes called “Children Under a Palm Tree”) is a Winslow Homer watercolor not so well-known to all art lovers and thus not so famous as many of his other works. The work was painted in the Bahamas in 1885 and was done in watercolor and pencil. Homer was asked to create a portrait of the three children of Sir Henry Blake, the colonial governor of the Bahamas at the time.
The family was attending a fancy dress party in Arabian costume. Homer also attended the party and was requested by Lady Blake to sketch her children. Olive Blake is in the center of the painting with her younger brothers, Maurice and Arthur, at her sides.
One of the reasons that the work is not as famous as other works by Homer is that the painting was “lost” for a long time. The original painting was not framed and was subsequently included among some works created by Lady Blake herself. She was an amateur artist.
The Blake family believed the painting was in her possession and nobody in the family was looking for the painting. After the completion of their colonial service in Jamaica and later in Hong Kong, the Blakes retired to Ireland. “Children under a Palm” traveled with them undetected with other Lady Black artworks.
In 1987, the painting, along with other material related to the Blake family, was found just outside a rubbish dump by Tony Varney while fishing in Ireland. He gave the painting to his daughter, and in 2008, they took it to a recording of “Antiques Roadshow”, which was identified by the art expert Philip Mould as a work by Winslow Homer. He valued it at £30,000.
The Blake family is still trying to claim ownership of the painting. Nowadays, the painting can be regarded as famous, but it is more famous for the “story” about recovery than for its artistic value. However, it is an excellent example of Winslow Homer’s paintings.
Another of the amazing Winslow Homer artworks, which is not as famous as some of his other works, is “The Initials”, This might be because not many of Homer’s Civil War paintings have been studied by scholars during the last decade or so. “The Initials” is such an example. It is an excellent oil painting, but because it was not studied in depth, it did not become as famous as many of his other paintings.
“The Initials” depicts a young woman alone in a barren pine tree. She leans against the most prominent tree and traces the initials already etched into the bark with her fingers. She wears a peacock-blue dress and a yellow straw hat.
Another reason “The Initials” is not so well-known and famous might be that Homer’s fans more often check out Winslow Homer’s watercolors than his early oil paintings.
Like most famous painters over centuries, Winslow Homer created many works which became famous and others, sometimes for no obvious reason, which stayed less famous. We hope this article has given you insight into why it has happened to some of Homer’s paintings.
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