Overview

Homer developed a penchant for forceful realism early in his career. Following an apprenticeship in a Boston lithography shop, he supported himself as a freelance illustrator, creating a wide variety of popular images that subsequently were published as wood engravings in national periodicals like Harper's Weekly. During the early 1860s, his themes ranged from stylish seaside–resort life to the horrors of the battlefield. Following an extended trip to Europe in 1866–1867, Homer adopted a warmer palette, a looser brush technique, and an interest in painting outdoor scenes that owed much to the influence of contemporary French artists such as Courbet, Manet, and Monet.

Upon his return to the United States, Homer turned his attention to lively scenes of sports and recreation, painting warm and appealing images that perfectly suited the prevalent postwar nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent America. Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), painted during the country's centennial year, has become one of the best–known and most beloved artistic images of life in 19th–century America.

Inscription

lower right: HOMER 1876.; lower left: HOMER

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Purchased from the artist by Charles Stewart Smith [1832-1909], New York, by 1878;[1] by inheritance to his son, Howard Caswell Smith, Oyster Bay, New York; sold 1943 to (Wildenstein & Co., New York); purchased 31 December 1943 by NGA.

Exhibition History

1876
Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, 1876, no. 194, as A Fair Wind.
1877
Kurtz Art Gallery, New York, 1877, no cat., as A Fair Wind.
1887
Exhibition of Oil Paintings, The Union League Club, New York, 1887, no. 33, as Breezing Up.
1936
Winslow Homer Centenary Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1936-1937, 22, no. 14, as Breezing Up, or A Fair Wind.
1946
American Painting from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Tate Gallery, London, 1946, no. 105.
1947
40 Masterpieces: A Loan Exhibition of Paintings from American Museums, City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1947, no. 24, repro., as Breezing Up.
1947
A Loan Exhibition of Winslow Homer, Wildenstein & Company, New York, 1947, no. 20, as A Fair Wind or Breezing Up.
1949
Homer, Eakins, Ryder, Inness and their French Contemporaries: A Loan Exhibition of Famous Paintings from Foremost American Museums and Collectors, Fort Worth Art Association, Texas, 1949, no. 18, frontispiece, as Breezing Up.
1958
Winslow Homer: A Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1958-1959, 114, no. 37.
1959
A Retrospective Exhibition: Winslow Homer, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1959, 95, no. 33, as Breezing Up.
1965
Troies Millenaires d'Art et de Marine, Petit Palais, Paris, 1965, no. 18.
1966
Paintings by American Masters: Fifth Anniversary Exhibition, Kalamazoo Art Center, Michigan, 1966, 10, as Breezing Up.
1967
Interpex Exhibition, New York, 1967, no cat.
1973
Winslow Homer, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago, 1973, 35, no. 35, as Breezing Up or A Fair Wind.
1976
American Marine Painting, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; The Mariners Museum, Newport News, Virginia, 1976, 97, no. 44, as Breezing Up.
1980
Loan for display with permanent collection, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980.
1995
Winslow Homer, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995-1996, no. 76, repro.
2000
A Fair Wind: Maritime Paintings by Winslow Homer, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, 2000, unnumbered brochure, repro.
2001
Winslow Homer and the Critics: Forging a National Art in the 1870s, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2001-2002, unnumbered catalogue, fig. 76.
2005
Winslow Homer in the National Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2005-2006, unnumbered brochure, fig. 3.
2009
American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life 1765-1915, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2009-2010, unnumbered catalogue, fig. 10.

Bibliography

1876
"Art Matters, A Hasty Glance at the Academy Exhibition." New York Evening Express (20 April 1876).
1876
"Fine Arts. Fifty-first Annual Exhibition of the National Academy of Design." New York Times (26 March 1876).
1876
"Fine Arts. National Academy of Design--Fifty-first Annual Exhibition."New York Tribune (1 April 1876).
1876
"Fine Arts." New York Evening Post (5 January 1876).
1876
"Fine Arts. The National Academy Exhibition. II." Nation 22 (20 April 1876): 268.
1876
"The Arts. Representative Pictures at the Academy." Appleton's Journal 15 (15 April 1876): 508.
1876
"The Arts: The Academy Exhibition." Appleton's Journal 15 (22 April 1876): 539.
1876
"The Fine Arts. Exhibition of the National Academy." New York Times (8 April 1876).
1876
"The National Academy of Design." New York Sun (30 April 1876).
1876
"The National Academy of Design (Second Notice)." Art Journal 2 (1876):190.
1877
Benjamin, Samuel G.W. Art in America: A Critical and Historical Sketch. New York, 1877: 124, repro. 124, as Sail Boat.
1877
"Fine Arts. American Paintings." Brooklyn Daily Eagle (26 February 1877).
1878
Sheldon, George W. "American Painters--Winslow Homer and F.A. Bridgman." Art Journal 4 (August 1878).
1879
Benjamin, Samuel G.W. "Present Tendencies of American Art." Harper's New Monthly Magazine 58 (March 1879): 488, repro. 488, as Sail Boat.
1879
Sheldon, George William. American Painters. New York, 1879.
1880
Strahan, Edward (pseud. of Earl Shinn). The Art Treasures of America. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1880. Reprint, New York, 1977: 2:92.
1887
"Paintings at the Union League Club." New York Tribune (11 March 1887), as Breezing Up.
1889
Montgomery, Walter, ed. American Art and American Art Collections. 2 vols. Boston, 1889. Reprint, New York and London 1978: 2:718, 720, as A Fair Wind.
1911
Downes, William Howe. The Life and Works of Winslow Homer. Boston and New York, 1911: 90.
1932
Bolton, Theodore. "The Art of Winslow Homer: An Estimate." Fine Arts 18 (February 1932): 53.
1943
Burrows, Carlyle. "Art Events of the Week." New York Herald Tribune (27 June 1943).
1944
_Art Digest 18 (1 January 1944): 11, repro.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 174, color repro.
1944
Goodrich, Lloyd. Winslow Homer. New York, 1944: 70, 72, repro. 11.
1944
Goodrich, Lloyd. "Young Winslow Homer." Magazine of Art 37 (February 1944): repro. 59.
1946
_Favorite Paintings from the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C.. New York, 1946: 73-75, color repro., as Breezing Up.
1947
"American Painting of the 18th and 19th Centuries in the Tate Gallery Exhibition." Antiques 51 (February 1947): no. 68, repro. 107.
1947
Gibbs, Josephine. "Honoring Homer." Art Digest 21 (1 March 1947): 10, repro. 10.
1947
Louchheim, Aline B. "Homer: Success Story; This Retrospective Accents High Spots." Art News 45 (March 1947): 40-41, 59-60, color repro. 40.
1948
Walker, John. "American Masters in the National Gallery of Art." National Geographic Magazine 94 (September 1948): 323, color repro. 29.
1951
King, Marian. Portfolio Number 3. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951: no. 11, color repro.
1951
Walker, John. Paintings from America. Harmondsworth, England, 1951: 29 and 44, no. 29, color repro. 29.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 56, repro., as Breezing Up.
1958
Porter, Fairfield. "Homer, American vs. Artist: A Problem in Identities." Art News 57 (December 1958): 56.
1959
Bouton, Margaret. American Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1959 (Booklet Number One in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 26, color repro., as Breezing Up.
1959
Goodrich, Lloyd. Winslow Homer. New York, 1959: repro. 29.
1960
_The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 20, as Breezing Up.
1961
Gardner, Albert Ten Eyck. Winslow Homer, American Artist: His World and His Work. New York, 1961: 197, color repro. 73.
1962
Gould, Jean. Winslow Homer: A Portrait. New York, 1962: 152, 166, repro. opp. 166.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 290, repro., as Breezing Up.
1966
Beam, Philip C. Winslow Homer at Prout's Neck. Boston, 1966: 11.
1966
Beam, Philip C. Winslow Homer at Prout's Neck. Exh. cat. Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Brunswick, Maine, 1966: n.p.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:490, color repro., as Breezing Up.
1966
Flexner, James Thomas. The World of Winslow Homer, 1836-1910. New York, 1966: 88, color repro. 88-89.
1967
Wilmerding, John. Pittura Americana dell' Ottocento. Milan, 1967: 27, color repro. 491.
1968
Wilmerding, John. A History of American Marine Painting. Salem, Massachusetts, 1968: 214, 218, 221, repro. 216.
1969
Prown, Jules David. American Painting: From Its beginnings to the Armory Show. Geneva, 1969. Reprint, Geneva, 1977: 87, 89, 90, color repro. 87.
1970
_American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 68, repro., as Breezing Up.
1971
Campbell, William P. "The American Heritage at the National Gallery of Art." The Connoisseur 178 (December 1971): repro. 269.
1972
Wilmerding, John. Winslow Homer. New York, 1972: 92, 94, 134, 174, detail color repro. 127.
1973
Williams, Hermann Warner. Mirror to the American Past: A Survey of American Genre Painting, 1750-1900. Greenwich, Connecticut, 1973: 183.
1975
Stein, Roger B. Seascape and the American Imagination. New York, 1975: 137.
1975
Wilmerding, John. Audubon, Homer, Whistler, and Nineteenth Century America. New York, 1975: 12, 13, color repro. 61.
1976
Bloomer, Carolyn M. Principles of Visual Perception. New York, 1976: 69, fig. 5-6.
1976
Wilmerding, John. American Art. Hammondsworth, England, and New York, 1976: 134, pl. 160.
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 103, pl. 65, as Breezing Up.
1979
Hendricks, Gordon. The Life and Work of Winslow Homer. New York, 1979: 118-119, 275, 276, 282, color repro. 107.
1980
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 176, repro., as Breezing Up.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 9, 15, no. 34, color repro.
1980
Wilmerding, John. "Winslow Homer's Right and Left." Studies in the History of Art 9 (1980): 64, repro.
1981
Williams 1981, 172, 173. repro. 174.
1983
Beam, Philip C. Winslow Homer Watercolors. Brunswick, Maine, 1983: 14, 19, 28, 46.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 554, no. 842, color repro.
1986
Cooper, Helen A. Winslow Homer Watercolors. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. Washington, 1986: 38, 245, color repro. 39.
1986
Judge, Mary A. Winslow Homer. New York, 1986: 45, color repro. 33.
1987
Prown, Jules David. "Winslow Homer in His Art." Smithsonian Studies in American Art 1 (Spring 1987): 41-42, repro. 36.
1987
Wilmerding, John. American Marine Painting. Rev. ed. of A History of American Marine Painting, 1968. New York, 1987: 151, 157, color repro. 158.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 120, no. 37, color repro.
1990
Carren, Rachel Ann. "From Reality to Symbol: Images of Children in the Art of Winslow Homer." 2 vols. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park, 1990: 1:viii, 106-118, 215; 2:repro. 41.
1990
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. "Homer around 1900." In Winslow Homer: A Symposium. Edited by Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr. In Studies in the History of Art 26 (1990): 144-145, repro. 144.
1990
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. Winslow Homer. New York, 1990: 56, 58, 61, 87, 147, color repro. 59.
1990
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. "Winslow Homer's Unfinished Business." Studies in the History of Art 37 (1990): 102.
1990
Wilmerding, John, and Linda Ayres. Winslow Homer in the 1870's: Selections from the Valentine-Pulsifer Collection. Exh. cat. The Art Museum, Princeton University; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Princeton, 1990: 16, 44, 46-49, repro. 44.
1991
Wilmerding, John. American Views: Essays on American Art. Princeton, 1991: 208, 227, 312, 337-338 n.50, 340 n.10, repro. 206.
1992
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 204, repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 241, repro.
1995
_Winslow Homer. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995-1996: no. 76.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 312-318, color repro.
1997
Hughes, Robert. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. New York, 1997: 306-307, color fig. 185.
1997
Ross, Novelene. Toward an American Identity: Selections from the Wichita Art Museum Collection of American Art. Wichita, Kansas, 1997: p. 66, no. 3, repro.
1998
Haltman, Kenneth. "Antipastoralism in Early Winslow Homer" in Art Bulletin, Vol. LXXX, No. 1. 1998: 106-107, repro. no. 23.
2003
Lubin, David M. Shooting Kennedy: JFK and the Culture of Images. Berkeley, 2003: 42-43, 321, fig. 13.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 322-323, no. 259, color repro.
2005
Goodrich, Lloyd, edited and expanded by Abigail Booth Gerdts. Record of Works by Winslow Homer. 4 vols. New York, 2005: 2:no. 596, repro.
2006
Wilmerding, John. "Masterpiece: The Odyssey of Winslow Homer." The Wall Street Journal (12 August 2006).
2009
Gariff, David, Eric Denker, and Dennis P. Weller. The World's Most Influential Painters and the Artists They Inspired. Hauppauge, NY, 2009: 121, color repro.
2011
Goldin, Marco. Van Gogh e il viaggio di Gauguin: Variazioni su un tema. Exh. cat. Genoa, 2011. Treviso, 2011: 163, color repro.
2011
Greenhalgh, Adam. "Edward Hopper, Ground Swell." In Corcoran Gallery of Art: American Paintings to 1945. Edited by Sarah Cash. Washington, 2011: 248, fig. 1.

Technical Summary

The medium-weight, plain-weave fabric support has been lined and cusping is found only on the vertical edges. Over the white ground of moderate thickness is a thin reddish-brown imprimatura. X-radiography, infrared reflectography, and pentimenti reveal many changes in the composition: alterations in the angle of the mast and the position of the tiller and rudder; the deletion of two boats in the background; the addition of the schooner at right on top of the completed sky; and the replacement of the figure of a boy in the bow with an anchor. The flattened impasto is, presumably, a consequence of previous treatments. In 1966, the varnish was thinned and the painting was restored. In 1995, the discolored varnish was removed from the surface and a triangular black gray overpaint in the upper right corner was removed. The picture was revarnished and inpainted to hide pentimenti.

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