Winslow Homer in the National Gallery of Art previous next
" "Dad's Coming!
zoom Dad's Coming, 1873, oil on wood, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Homer’s early works, while mainly set outdoors, are almost all figure paintings. This was a conspicuous departure from the type of pure landscape that dominated nineteenth-century American art. Homer spent the summer of 1873 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he painted this family of a fisherman awaiting his return. The exuberance suggested by the title—first given when an engraving of the painting was published in Harper's Weekly in 1873—is tempered by the meditative air of the still, silhouetted figures. The mother faces away from the sea, while the young boy scans a horizon that yields no sign of an approaching boat. Instead of depicting a celebratory narrative of homecoming, Homer captures the more ambiguous moment of watching and waiting. He would have been acutely aware of this aspect of the lives of fishermen's families, for Gloucester experienced a significant loss of life due to tragedies at sea during his stay." "

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