New York: Harper's Weekly, 1862. First printing. Wood engraving after drawing by Winslow Homer. June 7th, 1862. Near Fine Condition. with minor spotting on left edge and along centerfold. Image: 9.5 x 7 inches on Folio sheet (21 3/8 x 15 7/8, 588.8 x 406 mm.)
Unquestionably one of the most acclaimed artists of 19th Century American daily life, Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was a relatively unknown artist at the time he drew the compositions for the wood engravings for the popular American journal Harper's Weekly. Created during the Civil War, these iconic images are not to be viewed as mere illustrations; pictorial images rendered to lend support to an accompanying text, story or document, rather, Homer's expressive engravings stand on their own, and thus become narrative; the story, event or tale in itself.
Winslow Homer experienced firsthand the tragedy, angst and occasional pride of a nation at war with itself. In1861 as special war correspondent for Harper's Weekly, Homer joined the Union soldiers at camp in Virginia, while they regrouped after their loss at the first Battle of Bull Run. Here Winslow honed his artistic mastery in expressing the pathos and glory of the soldiers at war, in repose and in celebration through his use of strict linear and tonal drawings which were eventually engraved in boxwood by a skilled wood engraver. As a perfectionist, Homer tailored his drawings to meet the challenges of the engraver to bring to life from a block of wood the subtleties and richness of figures, form and atmosphere through an intricate web of contrasting cross hatched and parallel lines.
As an artist with a sense of his own destiny, Homer's timing was impeccable. Through advances in printing during the 19th Century, wood engraving had become the popular medium for illustrating the several widely circulated magazines of a burgeoning nation, Harper's Weekly, Ballou's Pictorial and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Homer contributed to them all, and continued to do so even after his artistic reputation and financial success as a painter was firmly established among the landed gentry on both sides of the Atlantic. It was in these democratic journals the name Winslow Homer was planted in the consciousness of every American, simple and sophisticated, as one of the most endeared portrayers of the American way of life. He remains so to this day.
These original wood engravings are a wonderful and affordable tribute to both Winslow Homer's achievements, and the art of 19th Century historic Americana.
(Hendricks, Gordon: The Life and Work of Winslow Homer. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1979., Kushner, Marilyn S.: Winslow Homer, Illustrating America. New York: George Braziller, Inc, 2000.). Near Fine Condition. Item #3026