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The painting was made by Winslow Homer (1836–1910). He was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America and a preeminent figure in American art.
Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator.He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations.
The accompanying print shows 'Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts' painted in 1870. Following his experience as an illustrator during the Civil War, Homer turned his attention to lighter scenes of contemporary life, often focusing on fashionable young women. This painting of three bathers on a Massachusetts beach was his most daring subject to date. Critics were less disturbed by its disquieting mood than by the fact that, as one observed, the figures were “exceedingly red-legged and ungainly.” As in much of Homer’s art, an air of mystery and melancholy imbues the scene, suggesting deeper meanings below the surface.