Cape Cod Art Preservation Society
TOP 10

The Ten Best Paintings of Winslow Homer

Few artists have had as much impact on American art (or world art, for that matter) than Winslow Homer.

With his vast portfolio it's hard to narrow down to just ten, but we've attempted it anyway.
The Veteran in a New Field

The Veteran in a New Field

It's somewhat unusual for a painter to center his figure exactly in the middle of the canvas. But that's what Homer did with this reaper and the result is glorious. The muted sky, wheat and ground make his white shirt all the more striking, and the darknesss of his hat and slacks give him an air of respect. Just perfect.
Dressing for the Carnival

Dressing for the Carnival

The movement and positioning of the subjects in this painting are fantastic. The man adjusting his outfit, the cocked head of the woman on the far left and her hand position, the little girl on the far left standing with such elegance and grace. Just a lovely, lovely painting.
Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts

Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts

This one is a little 'sharp' when it comes to the three swimmers (which some people prefer...I favor a more blended edge), but it's the composition that makes this one of Homer's best. The swimmers being slightly off-center and isolated, the foreground being a little taller than the sky portion. And that dog! Who are we kidding, this painting is all about that dog.
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)

Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)

Great color, great light and shadow. But it's all about composition on this one. The fact that the boat is cut off by the left edge of the canvas is magnificent - it creates an optical illusion that makes you feel like it's sailing away on you. Almost as if you turn your head for a second, when you look back at the canvas the boat will have sailed completely out of the scene.
Boys in a Pasture

Boys in a Pasture

Every novice painter can learn from this painting. So many new artists use colors straight from the tube and their work ends up looking neon bright. Here we see a master at work: tone it down, tone it down, tone it down...let the highlights sing. Look at the bright orange of the ear of the boy with the dark hat. Stunning.
Long Branch, New Jersey

Long Branch, New Jersey

This painting has it all: a sense of distance, light and shadow, movement, perspective, detail, restraint. Yep - everything works with this one.
The West Wind

The West Wind

This is a great master at the height of his powers. In 1891, Winslow Homer was 55 when he created this beauty. The elegance and subtlety of the muted tones, the off-kilter positioning of the subject, those amazing, amazing clouds. This is truly a painter's painting.
Sunlight and Shadow

Sunlight and Shadow

Admittedly, this is somewhat of a populist painting. You can imagine someone who has no interest in art saying, "but I like this one". It doesn't matter - it's a great painting. So many varieties of green tastefully done. And the slightest hint of sunlight hitting her skirt and the top of the hammock. Plus, just looking at the setting lowers the heart rate.
Gloucester Harbor

Gloucester Harbor

This is an atypical Winslow Homer painting, which is why it's part of this list. All the greats challenge themselves and get outside of their comfort zone. The wild, vibrant colors feel like a precursor to Maxfield Parrish and the strokes are bold and confident. You can just feel that sun.
Camp Fire

Camp Fire

Maybe Homer's greatest painting. The precision of the shadowy areas blend into the figures that are lighted just enough. It's so difficult to achieve that delicate balance of showing the minimal features that still tell the story. And those orange/red sparks rising to the top of the canvas! Magical, majestic, wonderful.