Winslow Homer was sentimental. That’s a good thing.
Art Business

Winslow Homer was sentimental. That’s a good thing.

Winslow Homer’s 1865 painting “The Brush Harrow.” (Winslow Homer/Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum) Quick personality test: Would you call a picture of a young boy looking out to sea, waiting for his fisherman dad to come home, “sentimental”? What about a picture of an old horse and two tired, barefoot boys laboring in a stony field, backlit by the late afternoon sun? If you think these scenes do sound sentimental, I think you’re spot on. You might decide you wouldn’t like them on that basis. After all, in some circles calling a painting “sentimental” is just about the most damning thing you can say about it. Yet, the pictures described above are by Winslow Homer — an artist with unrivaled prestige in the history of American art. It’s just not cool to call Homer sentimental. So, take a closer look. Painted in 1865, Homer’s “The Brush Harrow” is a very famous Civil War picture that shows those barefoot boys doing the work of men. They are doing the work of men because the men — more than 600,000 of them — did not return from war, leaving their families brokenhearted and often near-destitute. Homer painted the other picture — the […]

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