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The Cover |

The Water Fan

M. Therese Southgate, MD
JAMA. 2008;299(21):2480. doi:10.1001/jama.299.21.2480.
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Winslow Homer (1836-1910), generally acknowledged as America's greatest watercolorist, came to the medium relatively late in his career. Only during his late 30s, while living for an extended period in a small English fishing village near Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear, did he begin to experiment seriously with watercolor. Over the next 30 years he would produce nearly 700 watercolors. Some of the best are among his last.

Not surprisingly for one interested in the nuances of light reflected from moving surfaces, Homer often painted the sea. Sometimes his subject was the sea alone, a massive breathing force of nature. Sometimes he painted a lone figure against the sea, telling the tragic story of the unequal struggle of man against nature. At other times he emphasized the symbiotic relationship between the two, as in The Water Fan (cover), completed while Homer was in Nassau during the season of 1898-1899.

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Winslow Homer (1836-1910), The Water Fan, 1898-1899, American. Watercolor with blotting and touches of scraping over graphite on thick, rough, twill-textured, ivory wove paper. 37.4 × 53.4 cm. Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago (http://www.artic.edu/aic/), Chicago, Illinois; gift of Dorothy A., John A. Jr, and Christopher Holabird in memory of William and Mary Holabird, 1972.190. Photograph by Robert Lifson. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago. Image not for download.



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