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The Army of the Potomac–A Sharp-Shooter
on Picket Duty
, Publ. Harper's Weekly, 15 Nov. 1862

Winslow Homer began his professional career in 1857, working as a freelance illustrator for weekly newspapers. The rise of the pictorial press in the mid-nineteenth century flooded middle-class readers with pictures of events and places far outside their daily experience. Homer contributed over 250 images to this deluge.

The wood engravings' diverse subjects and Homer's aspiration to report on things as they were (or at least seem that way) make them an invaluable historical resource. Historians use them to illustrate studies of American politics, war, and daily life. Art historians study them for insights into the young painter's career and the visual culture in which he lived. The pictures can be part of many different narratives.

Sterling Clark recognized the prints as an important part of Homer's work, lamenting in his diary the loss of the original drawings, which Homer made on the woodblocks, through the engravers' work: "Really admirable some of them—A pity the drawings were destroyed in the wood cutting process—Lots of movement. . . . A really great artist." Clark acquired his wood engravings during World War II, when nostalgia for the American innocence exemplified by much of Homer's imagery was particularly precious.

Search the collection to view all of Homer's wood engravings.
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