A Basket of Clams
More about "A Basket of Clams"
Winslow Homers 1873 watercolor A Basket of Clams was painted in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where the artist experimented with watercolour by painting figurative reproductions of the local children who inhabited the seafront and the wharves. Homers deft and elegant rendition of a gentle scene in which two small children carry a container of clams, their respective shoulders weighed down as they shoulder the burden together, is a modest and humble expression of childhood. The cumbersome yet simple responsibility given to these two boys is contrasted by the hint of more arduous work through the two-masted sailboat behind them, referencing Gloucester's maritime economy. A charming, almost idyllic American image, Homers shimmering use of light and energetic composition combine to create a simple work that reflects many of the preoccupations of his time. Like many other artists, Homer developed an interest in children and their daily lives in the 1870s the decade following the American Civil War. This age of reconstruction, national healing, and industrial growth would frequently turn their eyes towards children as the harbingers of an innocent world and the embodied hopes of Americas future.
Winslow Homer is seen by many as the greatest populist painter of the nineteenth century. Initially covering the Civil War as an artist-correspondent for Harper's Weekly, Homers style began to concretize into an anecdotal rendering of his subjects. Following the conflict, Homer experimented with his craft, living in New York City, and created magazine illustrations to sustain himself and his work. Frequently journeying out to Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the rural New York State, Homers style finally formed after a year-long visit to Paris in which he soaked up the surroundings and natural light that so influenced his contemporaries, the Impressionists. Although no avant-garde trailblazer, Homers figurative reproductions of daily life reveal an artist who was a great observer of life, with an ability to capture scenes of both utter serenity and bitter conflict.
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