Lot 32
  • 32

Winslow Homer 1836 - 1910

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Winslow Homer
  • Road in Nassau (No. 1 Nassau Street)
  • signed Homer indistinctly (lower left); also inscribed No. 1 / Nassau Street Nassau / No. 1 on the reverse
  • watercolor and pencil on paper
  • 21 1/2 by 15 inches
  • (54.6 by 38.1 cm)


Doll & Richards, Boston, Massachusetts, 1903 (acquired from the artist)
William Payne Blake, Boston, Massachusetts, 1903 (acquired from the above)
F. Minot Blake (his son), Hartford, Connecticut, 1922
Francis Blake Nettleton (his daughter), Hartford, Connecticut, 1956 (sold: Sotheby's, New York, December 1, 1994, lot 134, illustrated)
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale


Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut Collects, no. 14 (on temporary loan)
Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Wadsworth Atheneum, 110 Years, no. 18
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Winslow Homer, February-March 1911
Boston, Massachusetts, Copley Society, Paintings in Water Color by Winslow Homer, John S. Sargent, Dodge MacKnight, March 1921
Providence, Rhode Island, Rhode Island School of Design, Exhibition of Water Colors by Winslow Homer, February-March 1931, no. 1
Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Paintings in Hartford Collections, 1936, no. 78
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Winslow Homer Centenary Exhibition, December 1936-January 1937, no. 95
Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of American Art; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Winslow Homer: A Retrospective Exhibition, November 1958-March 1959, no. 173
Washington, D.C., The U.S. Department of State, Office of Protocol (Blair House), September 1992-December 1994 (on loan)


This work is in very good condition. The paper is hinged to the mat at the upper right and left corners. The paper has yellowed slightly and there is some mat burn at the edges. There is one dot of possible staining at the upper right edge beneath the mat.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Late in his career, Winslow Homer escaped the winters of the Northeast and traveled to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Florida, where the warmer temperatures allowed the artist to continue to paint outdoors. Homer first visited the Bahamas in December 1884 while on assignment with Century Magazine and found himself drawn to the picturesque scenery and modest lives of the islands' citizens. While in Nassau for the second time from December 1898 through January 1899, he painted a series of 25 watercolors that depicted the sights of everyday life in this exotic locale. Out of this group emerged five non-figural compositions—including Road in Nassau—that are similar in their design technique and focus on capturing the effects of sunlight on architectural elements. Executed en plein air, these vibrant, tropical works display a spontaneity and immediacy that are in striking contrast to the carefully considered and heavily worked oil paintings the artist executed during the same period.

By the last decades of the 19th century, Homer had forged his reputation as a skillful painter in watercolor with both critics and popular audiences. “As a watercolorist,” writes Martha Tedeschi, “Homer intuitively adapted his practice to the unique environmental characteristics of the places he painted. This is particularly evident in the works he created in the tropical areas he visited—the Bahamas, Cuba, Bermuda, and Florida—between 1884 and 1905…Each scene offered fresh subject matter and yet another opportunity to push the flexible medium in new directions as he applied his increasingly sophisticated understanding of light and color to a new set of atmospheric conditions” (“Memoranda of Travel: The Tropics,” Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light, Chicago, Illinois, 2008, p. 177).

Compositions that incorporated the ocean held an enduring fascination for Homer and in the present work he depicts the cerulean sea at the end of a sun-drenched street in Nassau, the largest city in the Bahamas, which was then becoming a popular vacation destination. The watercolor is highlighted by areas of vibrant, highly saturated color. The artist evokes the strength and clarity of the Bahamian light through the vivid shadows that blanket the sandy road and the expanse of white wall that restrains the foliage, hinting at the lushness of the setting just beyond the picture plane. Although his expertise with and control over the watercolor medium is revealed in details such as this foliage, Homer renders much of the scene with large and expressive strokes of transparent color that visually suggest the humid and atmospheric quality of the tropical air. The vitality of the medium is heightened by his use of the white paper as part of the composition. The fluidity of Homer's execution and choice of bold colors in Road in Nassau creates a surface that is varied and dynamic, while also capturing the exotic beauty of a sun-filled day in the tropics.