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Winslow Homer Biography

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Winslow Homer Biography and Timeline

Homer was a painter who became a free-lance illustrator to make a living in the first part of his life. Notably, the 1860's and 1870s were years of experimentation and formation. He painted in oil and made drawings for wood engravings. He took up watercolors only in 1873 and was a full time painter later in his life. Winslow Homer was self taught, never married and worked in solitude especially since the 1880's. It's important to note that he was an avid fisherman too, and not onyl for sports but for food.

Life span: 1836 – 1910


1836, born in Boston, Massachussets.

1842, family moves to Cambridge .Childhood in the rural Cambridge area.His father encouraged his talent 8quite a rare thing for the time).

1855, apprentice with the lithographer John Bufford, Boston, starting with decorations of music sheets and finishing his apprenticeship with portraits of Senate members.

1857, freelancing as an illustrator to New York periodicals( e.g. Harper's Weekly)

1859, settled in New York as a designer for Harper's magazin wood carvers,

1859-1861, took evening classes at the National Academy of Design

1861: used color for the first time!

1863-65, as part of the Union Army, drawing from the civil war front lines for Harper's Weekly magazine. He is based in Virginia State.

1864, Elected to the National Academy

1866, trip to Paris and France. Two of his paintings were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle with mixed reviews (complaints of dull colors and unfinished touches).Influence of the French Barbizon school of plein air landscape painters.

1870, summers spent visiting New England fishing villages. in the 1860s-70s trips to Adirondacks, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire

June 1873, Homer went to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he painted his first watercolors: children in their activities. A need for more innocence after the war.

1875, The relative successes of his watercolors allowed him to become a full-time painter.

1876, joined the American Society of Painters in Water Colors

1881, trip to Cullercoats, near Tynemouth, England. Another fishing village He stayed here from Spring 1881 to November 1882. (more than 150 watercolors were produced)

Larger Map

He became sensitive to the harsh life of fishermen and their wifes and children, of the force of Nature and the fragility of life. His art greatly changed after this trip.


Summer 1883, settles in Prout's Neck, Maine until the end of his life. Trips to Adirondacks mountains.



Larger Map


1885, paintings trips to, Florida, Nassau (Bahamas Islands) and Cuba

1886, trip to Florida

1890, trip to Florida.He start concentrating on the sea for the rest of his life.

1898, trip Nassau, Bahamas

1899, trip to Bermuda

1901, Trip to Bermuda

1903, trip to Florida, last watercolors

1908, stroke made him paralytic

1910, dies at his home in Prout's Neck, Maine.



An American Artist in England  [pp. 13-22]
By Mrs van Rensselaer, Schuyler, Mrs.
Collection: Making of America

Click here to download a PDF file

winslow homer biography


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