From the time Winslow Homer was a child, he was exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world in his art. At age 10, he was depicting rural life in almost lyrical terms. During the Civil War, his images were harrowing portraits of violence and desolation. Later, when Homer retreated to the countryside of New York and Massachusetts, he portrayed nature as a place of solace and leisure. Always in his images, nature was a powerful, untamed force.
A new show at the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art through Sept. 27 traces Homer's thematic development. "Winslow Homer: Facing Nature" has drawings, engravings, and paintings on loan from private collections, plus 13 watercolors and four oils recently given to the museum by the Charles Shipman Payson collection.
Homer is most famous for his seascapes. Recently, "Lost on the Grand Banks" (1885) became the most expensive American painting ever bought. Bill Gates reportedly paid $30 million for the 32-by-50-inch oil of two fishermen in a boat.