National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Home, Sweet Home Winslow Homer (painter)
American, 1836 - 1910
Home, Sweet Home, c. 1863
oil on canvas
overall: 54.6 x 41.9 cm (21 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.) framed: 77.2 x 64 x 7.6 cm (30 3/8 x 25 3/16 x 3 in.)
Patrons' Permanent Fund
1997.72.1
On View
From the Tour: Homer and Eakins: American Painters in the Late 1800s
Object 5 of 8

As a freelance reporter sketching the Civil War’s front lines for newspapers and magazines, Winslow Homer developed an incisive candor. His debut as an oil painter occurred in the spring of 1863, with the enthusiastically reviewed exhibition of Home, Sweet Home. Two Union infantrymen pause while a military band plays the familiar ballad, reminding them poignantly that their campsite is neither sweet nor home.

The conflict of 1861-1865 changed American society profoundly. With men gone to combat, women managed family businesses and assumed professional roles, such as teaching. These newly independent women, working or relaxing, figure prominently in Homer’s postwar subjects.

Homer treated many of his favorite motifs in serial format, creating variations in different media. The Dinner Horn depicts a farm maid who also appears in two other oil paintings as well as in an illustration in Harper’s Weekly. A crisp autumn sunshine is imparted by the bright shadows on her dress and the colorful flutter of leaves blowing across the grass. As she summons the field hands for their meal, a gust of wind reveals a provocative bit of petticoat and her shapely ankles. The Red School House, showing a solemn young teacher clutching her book, is among his many scenes of country schools. As one personification of a season, Autumn alludes to fashionable attire and, thus, to modern life.

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