On view for a limited time – the celebrated watercolor painting The New Novel (1877). The painting has been in storage since 2010, a conservation measure often used to safeguard watercolor paintings by reducing their exposure to light.
Born in Boston and raised in rural Cambridge, Massachusetts, Homer began his career as a commercial printmaker, first in Boston and then in New York, where he settled in 1859. He briefly studied oil painting in the spring of 1861. In October of the same year, he was sent to the warfront in Virginia to serve as an artist-correspondent for the new illustrated journal, Harper’s Weekly. Homer’s Civil War paintings reflected a profound understanding of the war’s impact and meaning.
Women at leisure, and children at play or engaged in daily activities, were favorite subjects for the artist in the 1870s. While expanding his mastery of oil paint during that decade, Homer also created his first watercolors, and quickly developed his skill, producing accomplished works like The New Novel, in 1877. The painting was one of five watercolors shown by the artist at the American Watercolor Society’s annual exhibit that year and the mysterious woman was thought to be the subject of an unrequited love affair.
The wood engravings on display include images of hunters in the Adirondacks, children playing outdoors and in the school yard and skating in New York’s Central Park, favorite subjects for the American master artist and include titles such as Skating on the Ladies’ Skating Pond in Central Park, New York, Homeward Bound and Trapping in the Adirondacks.