Lot 21
  • 21

Winslow Homer 1836-1910

300,000 - 500,000 USD
1,049,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Winslow Homer
  • Three Men in a Canoe
  • signed twice Homer and dated 1895 and '95, l.l.
  • gouache and ink wash on paper en grisaille

  • 13 3/4 by 20 in.
  • (34.9 by 50.8 cm)


Charles S. Homer, Jr., 1910
Mrs. Charles S. Homer, 1917
Arthur P. and Charles L. Homer, 1937
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1946
Andrew V. Stout, New York, 1946 (acquired from the above)
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1956
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1967


Prout's Neck, Maine, Prout's Neck Association, Century Loan Exhibition as a Memorial to Winslow Homer, July-August 1936, no. 47
New York, Macbeth Gallery, An Introduction to Homer, December 1936-January 1937, no. 62
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago, Winslow Homer, April-October 1973, no. 142
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum; New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Art Gallery, Winslow Homer Watercolors, March-November 1986, no. 190, illustrated in color p. 201
New York, M.Knoedler & Co., Winslow Homer in Monochrome, December 1986-September 1987, no. 98


Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer, New York, 1959, illustrated pl. 67

Catalogue Note

In the 1880's, Winslow Homer began spending several weeks each year in the Adirondack mountains of New York. An avid fly fisherman, like his brother Charles, Homer initially devoted much of his time in the North Woods to sport. The region's vast woodlands, isolated mountain lakes and network of rivers also appealed strongly to Homer's aesthetic sensibilities, and by the end of the decade, the focus of his Adirondack visits shifted gradually from sport to art. But by the 1890s, as tourists and developers started to claim more of the area, sportsmen started to look further North to Canada, and Homer made his first trip to Quebec in the spring of 1893. He and his brother Charles regularly traveled to Roberval, a village on Lake St. John near the headwaters of the Saguenay River, and became members of the exclusive Tourilli Fish and Game Club several miles to the south.  

About the present watercolor Helen Cooper writes, "Homer realized the pictorial possibilities of monochrome in a small series of Lake St. John subjects which are unlike any watercolors he had done before. Two Men in a Canoe (Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine) and Three Men in a Canoe evoke through a wealth of black and white tones the silent and almost mystical effect of the lake at sundown. In one of the few statements Homer ever made about art, he dwelt on the importance of finding the precise relationship of values of dark and light as well as of color. 'It is wonderful how much depends upon the relationship of black and white,' he said; 'if properly balanced [it] suggests color ... the question is the truth of the values.'

"The Lake St. John monochromes reveal Homer's extraordinary power in chiaroscuro - his exploration of negative and positive images, of opaque and reflected light, and of the tangible and intangible. All of these features Homer had rendered with color in the Adirondack works. But the Quebec watercolors cast the same spell of place and generate the same pictorial excitement in pure monochrome. Their delicate, silvery beauty, unique in the genre of sporting pictures, is one of the most poetic achievements of Homer's career" (Winslow Homer Watercolors, Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 202).