Undertow

Undertow

Winslow Homer
American (1836-1910)
1886
Oil on canvas

By 1883 Winslow Homer was living in Prout's Neck, on the coast of Maine, where he would have been constantly reminded of the power of the sea and of the potential danger involved in underestimating the forces of nature. This dramatic painting was inspired by a real event--a rescue Homer witnessed not in Maine but in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The final composition was the result of many preparatory drawings and studies, some of them almost certainly done from life, several of which are now also in the Clark collection. However, the monumentality of the figures also reflects the artist's interest in ancient Greek sculpture, which he would have seen in the British Museum during his stay in Britain in the early 1880s. In 1887, one year after the picture was painted, a critic wrote that Homer's "thorough understanding of the human figure and his brilliant draughtsmanship were never better shown than in this powerful group."

Audio: Curator's Voice: [from Acoustiguide Tour] - #104

Interactive Activity: Undertow

Video: Gallery Talk -- Painting (and Sculpture?)
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