Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winslow Homer's Maine

Left: Winslow Homer (United States, 1836-1910), Weatherbeaten, 1894, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson, 1988.55.1 Right: The Winslow Homer Studio Museum at Prout's Neck in Scarborough, Maine. (Images courtesy Portland Museum of Art, left, and Trent Bell Photography, right.)

This fall our colleague Meghan Carey, Art Director for Vera Wang Fine Papers, had the opportunity to visit Winslow Homer’s Studio at Prout’s Neck, a beautiful peninsula overlooking Maine’s Casco Bay. Winslow Homer’s family had substantial real estate holdings at Prout's Neck, so the artist retired there in 1883. Known as a recluse and curmudgeon, he lived austerely and became deeply immersed in the dramatic textures of the land and sea around him. It was in this studio that he devoted the remainder of his life to painting the monumental sea scenes for which he's most famous. Art historians often note how Maine's rugged coast matured and transformed Homer's work, elevating him to a singular place among American artists.

“Visiting Homer’s studio was truly unforgettable," Meghan observes. "This land is ensconced by sea, and Homer painted the world as he saw it. His palette is incredibly complex and conjures such a visceral reaction to a palpable space.”

Left: Meghan's photo of the shoreline. Right: Her Instagram from Homer's living room.

“The day of our visit was gorgeous and clear; the water bright and rustling. Everywhere we looked, another painting seemed to come into view – it was so easy to envision the weight of a storm; the swells collapsing and crushing. Weatherbeaten – to the left, Incoming Tide – to the right. The museum has done a wonderful job preserving and sharing this exquisite space. I’ve just never experienced anything like it.”

After a multi-year renovation, the Portland Museum of Art opened the studio museum in September to coincide with its Winslow Homer Exhibit currently on display at its flagship museum in Portland through December 30, 2012.

Left: The fireplace in the main room. Right: A sign warning of snakes and mice that Homer created to thwart curious visitors. (Images courtesy Trent Bell Photography, left, and Meghan Carey, right.)

Here is Meghan's favorite Winslow Homer painting: 

The Artists's Studio in an Afternoon Fog, 1894. Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 1/4 inches. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, R.T. Miller Fund. (Image courtesy Portland Museum of Art.)

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