Lot 39
  • 39

Winslow Homer

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Winslow Homer
  • Noon-day Rest and Two Men Scything: a double-sided drawing
  • signed WH (lower right)
  • pencil heightened with white on paper
  • 5 3/8 by 14 inches
  • (13.7 by 35.6 cm)
  • Executed circa 1879.


Mr. Beard, circa 1895
Bessie W. Beard (his daughter), Cambridge, Massachusetts, before 1936
William Macbeth, New York, 1936
James W. Fosburgh, New York, 1938
Pieter W. Fosburgh (his brother), Cherry Plain, New York, before 1970
Kennedy Galleries, New York, 1972
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia, circa 1973
Stacy B. Lloyd III (her son), 2014


New York, Macbeth Gallery, An Introduction to Homer, December 1936-January 1937, no. 12


John Wilmerding, "Winslow Homer's Creative Process," The Magazine Antiques, November 1975, pp. 965-71
Abigail Booth Gerdts, Record of Works by Winslow Homer: 1877-March 1881, New York, 2008, vol. III, no. 780, pp. 213, 214, illustrated


The sheet is hinged to the mat at the top edge. There is a very small tear and crease at the far upper right corner, a 1-inch repaired tear at the upper center edge and a slight 1 ½ inch impression near the lower right edge visible in raking light. A vertical band at the center appears to be slightly yellowed.
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

Executed circa 1879, this double-sided drawing is representative of Winslow Homer’s small, quiet depictions of rural life that embody “Americans’ hope for the future and their nostalgia for the seemingly simpler, more innocent era that preceded the great upheavals of the Civil War” (Martha Tedeschi and Kristi Dahm, Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light, New Haven, Connecticut, 2008, p. 38). During the late 1870s, Homer spent several summers living and working at Houghton Farm in Mountainville, New York. The farm was owned by Lawson Valentine, a varnish manufacturer, who was an important patron and childhood friend of Homer. Valentine first invited the artist to stay during the summer of 1876 and Homer was immediately drawn to both the pastoral scenery and the character of the local inhabitants who he often employed as models. Located in the Hudson River Valley, the property served as inspiration for an extensive and distinct body of work that demonstrates Homer’s captivation with the countryside and the deeply personal connection he felt to the region’s people.

Having gained national attention with moving representations of the Civil War in the 1860s, many of which were published in Harper’s Weekly, Homer solidified his reputation as one of America’s finest painters with his portrayals of rural life in the ensuing decades. As the country began to rebuild during Reconstruction, Homer’s celebrations of simple American pleasures and pastimes captured the nation’s desire for a return to peace. In works such as the present drawing, Homer explores the unique connection that Americans had to the land, as well as the beauty of the countryside and the innocence of youth. Of this drawing, Abigail Booth Gerdts writes: “From the sharp truncation of [the figures on the verso]… at about knee-height, it would appear the sheet supporting his double-sided drawing was originally substantially larger. Considering the placement of his initialing on the recto of the drawing, it seems likely Homer trimmed the sheet himself, and favored his drawing of the reclining scyther” (Record of Works by Winslow Homer, New York, 2008, vol. III, p. 213). The theme of the scyther is one that reappears in Homer’s work, from paintings of the 1860s inspired by Jean-François Millet to veterans working the fields after returning home from war (fig. 1).  This imagery was especially poignant in the post-Civil War period, evoking hope for rebirth and a return to the country’s agrarian roots.