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Homer Winslow born Feb 24 1836 Boston Mass US died Sept 29 1910 Prouts Neck Maine American painter whose works particularly those on marine subjects are among the most powerful and expressive of late 19th-century American art His mastery of sketching and watercolour lends to his oil paintings the invigorating spontaneity of direct observation from nature eg in The Gulf Stream 1899 His subjects often deceptively simple on the surface dealt in their most serious moments with the theme of mans efforts to establish his humanness in the face of an indifferent universe Homer was born into an old New England family When he was six the family moved to Cambridge then a rural village where he enjoyed a happy country childhood His artistic inclinations were encouraged by his mother an amateur painter When he was 19 he was apprenticed to the lithographic firm of John Bufford in Boston At first most of his work involved copying the designs of other artists but within a few years he was submitting his own drawings for publication in such periodicals as Ballous Pictorial and Harpers Weekly In 1859 Homer moved from Boston to New York City to begin a career as a free-lance illustrator The following year he exhibited his first paintings at the National Academy of Design With the outbreak of the American Civil War Homer made drawings at the front for Harpers but unlike most artist-correspondents he dealt more often with views of everyday camp life than with scenes of battle As the war dragged on he concentrated increasingly on painting In 1865 he was elected to the National Academy of Design Admirably capturing the dominant national mood of reconciliation his Prisoners from the Front 1866 was warmly received when exhibited at the academy shortly after the war ended Although Homers studio was in New York City the city was rarely his theme During the warm months he
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