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Winslow Homer: American Passage

In this compelling biography, William R. Cross chronicles the life story of the great painter and illustrator Winslow Homer (18361910), who captured America in the crucible of the Civil War and contributed to shaping American identity to this day.

In 1860, at the age of twenty-four, Winslow Homer was the most popular illustrator at Harper's Weekly. That year alone, he sold the magazine twenty-three illustrations—wood engravings, carved into boxwood and transferred to metal plates to stamp on paper. One was a scene that Homer saw on a visit to Boston, his hometown, inside Tremont Temple. His illustration shows a crowd of abolitionists being thrown from the church; at their front is Frederick Douglass, declaring “the freedom of all mankind.” He is at the heart of the image, face turned skyward and right arm reaching out like a Roman orator.

Homer, born into the Panic of 1837 and raised in the years before the Civil War, came of age in an America in crisis. Nonetheless, he spent his life capturing scenes that were distinctively, quintessentially American. Whether in pencil, watercolor, or oil, Homer addressed the hopes and fears of his fellow man, invited his viewers into the stories the artist began, and delivered to those viewers universal, timeless questions of purpose and meaning. Hardcover, 560 pages.

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