I'm indebted to Patti Hannaway and her wonderful book, "Winslow Homer in the Tropics," published in 1973 by Westover Publishing Company of Richmond, Virginia for the information I gleaned from it, as well as the scans which are credited as well to the museums which display the paintings. The book is still available, click on box, right.
What I love about this book is her great appreciation for Homer's work and her direct uncomplicated way of describing it. Not only that, but there are so many really great paintings, mostly in watercolor, which Homer did so well. In fact, I don't think there's ever been another American painter who can match him, with the possible exception of John Singer Sargent, whose total output in that medium is just of fraction of what Winslow Homer accomplished. For books about Sargent, click on Amazon link right. Click on images to enlarge them.
"The Gulf Stream" painted in 1889 is a 20 x 11-3/8-inch watercolor from The Art Institute of Chicago. Hannaway writes, "His shark-versus-man theme, perhaps unconventional, was thought to be a good deal too harsh for sensitive art lovers! As a storytelling picture, this work conveys stark reality as the artist saw and felt it. The viewer must simply draw his own conclusion."
"The Gulf Stream" is a 49 x 28-inch oil painting of the same theme begun in 1884 and finished in 1889, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Wolfe Fund. Hannaway writes, "This oil is the only one Homer's tropicals ever exhibited at the National Academy of Design and, following its 1906 exhibition there, was finally purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $4,500." A princely sum for those days.
Detail of the above painting.
"Negro Cabins and Palms" is a 21 x 14-3/8-inch watercolor painted in 1898 and owned by The Brooklyn Museum. Hannaway writes of this, "In his early sixties, the artist gloried in painting these pictures -- reveling in the sun and sand and the tropical sea. Each day found him out early to capture the rapidly emerging pageantry before him. He was working in a kind of ecstasy with a swift, sure touch. He depicted the palms loosely in in dark, gray-green shades against the pale, luminous, possibly early-morning sky."
"Stowing Sail" is another watercolor, slightly less than 22 by 14 inches in size and painted in 1903, from The Art Institute of Chicago's Ryerson Collection. Hannaway writes, "The painting's overall appearance is transparent and the feeling is profoundly cool and airy. We also see here vivid evidence of Homer's use of red, since he deftly managed to inject three splashes of it in strategic positions."
"Wrecked Schooner" is a 21 x 14-1/2-inch watercolor of 1908 from the City Art Museum of St. Louis. This is said to be the last watercolor he completed. Hannaway feels the death of the schooner's crew made him aware of his own impending death and concludes her text, "It was one of the last important pictures he rendered in a medium which, more than any other American artist, he had raised to a level of major stature, and undoubtedly was one of his finest paintings."