Although undated, this watercolor was almost certainly executed at Houghton Farm during the summer of 1878. Homer’s watercolors of this period marked a new development in his style. In comparison with earlier works, they were characterized by freer handling, lighter colors, and a more sensitive use of the white of the roughly-textured paper he favored at this time.1
These two farm children served frequently as models for Homer during the summer of 1878. In other drawings they can be seen conversing over the split-rail fence,2 climbing over the fence,3 or merely relaxing in a shaded glen.4
The drawing has also been known as Boy and Girl at Gate.
1. Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer (1944), p. 63.
2. Watercolor, Spring, 1878, Collection Mr. and Mrs. Samuel A. Peck, illustrated in Winslow Homer (exhibition catalogue) (Washington–New York, 1958–1959), no. 93.
3. Watercolor, On the Stile, Harold T. Pulsifer Collection, Colby College, illustrated in Goodrich, Winslow Homer (1959), pl. 32 [as “probably 1878”].
4. Watercolor, The Flock of Sheep, Houghton Farm, 1878, Collection of Mrs. Joseph Doyle, illustrated in Goodrich, Winslow Homer (1959), pl. 33.
—Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Standish D. Lawder, and Charles W. Talbot, Jr., Drawings from the Clark Art Institute, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 1:139, no. 337.