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" " The Red School HouseThe Red School House, 1873, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Many of Homer's paintings show self-assured, independent, working women, such as the teacher featured prominently in The Red School House. The one-room schoolhouse in the background appears in a number of Homer's works from this time, including Snap the Whip, one of his most beloved images.

snap the whip wood engraving

After Winslow Homer, Snap-the-Whip, published 1873, wood engraving on newsprint, Avalon Fund

Childhood, an important theme in the work of such contemporary American writers as Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain, became Homer’s principal subject in the early 1870s. Pictures of children gathered in a one-room schoolhouse, playing in the countryside, or sitting on the beach on a summer day suited the postwar nostalgia for the presumed simplicity and innocence of a bygone era.

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