Winslow Homer. “The Bathers” New York: Harper’s Weekly, August 2, 1873. 13 3/4 x 9 1/8. Wood engraving. Very good condition. Beam: 199.
Harper’s Weekly was a weekly newspaper filled with woodblock illustrations by many of the leading American artists of the last half of the nineteenth century. Of particular historical importance are the contemporaneous views of Civil War battles, soldiers and scenes. These pictures, often drawn on the spot by the magazine’s numerous artists, provided the most widely circulated eye-witness illustrations of the war, and thus were the most common means by which Americans could view the events and persons of this tragic conflict. However in the years that followed the war, Homer turned his artistic hand to subjects of a more genteel nature. “Children, a less emotionally complicated subject, became a focal point for much of his work in the late 1870s. In the postwar period of increasing materialism and industrialization, in which the social and economic fabric was changing, children were a reminder of a less worldly, more natural state of man. Homer portrayed children with an affection and realism shared by Mark Twain’s ‘Tom Sawyer’.” [Italy: 1986, “Winslow Homer” by Mary Judge, page 38] This is one of the classic images by Homer from this period.