Lot 33
  • 33

Winslow Homer

400,000 - 600,000 USD
471,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Winslow Homer
  • Boys Fishing, Gloucester Harbor
  • signed Winslow Homer N.A. and dated 1880 (lower left)
  • watercolor and pencil on paper
  • 9  1/4  x 13  3/4  inches


Sylvia H. Reade, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, by 1974 
[With]Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts, 1974
Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, New York, 1974 
[With]Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts
Mr. and Mrs. William Maxion, New York
Mr. William Maxion, Jr. (their son)
[With]Chad Anyan Fine Art, Los Angeles, California, circa 1996
Private collection, 1996 (acquired from the above; sold: Christie's, New York, May 23, 2001, lot 41)
Private collection (acquired at the above sale)
By descent to the present owner


Lloyd Goodrich and Abigail Booth Gerdts, Record of Works by Winslow Homer: 1877 through 1881, vol. III, New York, 2008, no. 934, p. 328, illustrated 

Catalogue Note

Winslow Homer’s Gloucester pictures are defined by both medium and subject matter. During the late nineteenth century, Gloucester was one of the busiest fishing ports in the nation. As such, much of Homer’s summers in the area were spent depicting boats and those utilizing them, most typically boys. His focus on depicting children embodied “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 summers of 1873 and 1880, Winslow Homer mastered the medium of watercolor while visiting the seaside town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Beginning with his first trip to Gloucester in 1873, the artist exclusively painted in watercolor, honing his skills by depicting the men, women and children around him in daily tasks of work and play. Boys in a Dory (Fig. 1), painted during that first summer, reflects the innocent and idyllic nature of his subjects. On his return trip in 1880, Boys Fishing, Gloucester Harbor was rendered.

Boys Fishing, Gloucester Harbor exemplifies the evolution of Homer’s use of watercolor and his command of the medium. While some artists used watercolor as a portable tool, ideal for plein air sketches that served as preliminary studies for oil paintings, Homer’s watercolors were intended to stand on their own as full-fledged works of art. His watercolors proved so successful that by 1875 he had given up his career as a commercial illustrator and was able to live comfortably from the income generated by these works. By 1905, Homer had executed nearly 700 works in watercolor. As the artist predicted in a letter to a friend, “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors” (as quoted in Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer, New York, 1944, p. 159).