By John Boudreau, Communications Intern
Though Winslow Homer is today regarded as one of America’s preeminent artists, he didn’t always meet with such universal critical approval during his career. In fact, some of the paintings that are now popularly regarded as masterpieces were panned by critics when they first came out. Do you agree with the reviewers? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Saco Bay, 1896
“[I]t has strong points in its composition and good passages in its painting, but the falsity of the crimson-edged clouds, which do not stay in place and are lacking in atmosphere, destroy the harmony of the work and make it a painting that is not satisfactory. It is signed by a great painter, but it is one of his slips”—William A. Coffin, “Society of American Artists. Pictures at the 19th Annual Exhibition,” New York Sun, 31 March 1897.
West Point, Prout’s Neck, 1900
“…[Winslow Homer] has one good marine with stormy waves dashing against rocks [Eastern Point], but its companion [West Point, Prout’s Neck], a buff colored sea with an inch of scarlet sunset between it and a buff sky, and some rocks pounded by spray that throws itself at one point into a stiff column, is hard in its lines, without air, disagreeable and cheap in color and altogether mournful”—“Fine Arts. Society of American Artists,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 31 March 1901
Reviews are excerpted from Winslow Homer: The Clark Collection, ed. Marc Simpson (Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2013), pages 102 and 114.