Winslow Homer: Force of Nature

Winslow Homer: Force of Nature

The American painter and illustrator Winslow Homer (1836–1910) are well-known to most art lovers and art historians for his images and perceptions of the American Civil War, marine subjects, seascapes, and the symbolism in some of his depictions of women and children.

Although his works of art have always been popular in the United States, an exhibition presenting an overview of his work was held in the United Kingdom for the first time at the end of 2022.   

If you want to be more informed about Homer and his paintings, this article will help you better understand the amazing Winslow Homer’s artworks. We’ll use some of the information provided by the UK exhibition “Winslow Homer: Force of Nature.” Still, we’ll include other information to make it easier for you to understand the painter Winslow Homer and his works of art.


Aspects highlighted by the UK Exhibition “Winslow Homer: Force of Nature.”

In the UK exhibition “Winslow Homer: Force of Nature,” Homer was honored with more than fifty paintings. The works cover over forty years of his career as an American Realist painter who confronted the leading issues facing the United States at his time. The artworks for the exhibition were selected and exhibited in such a way that they illustrated that Homer’s career spanned a turning point in North American history. He experienced the American Civil War, the abolition of slavery, the American Reconstruction, and the war with Spain –the last colonial European power in the Americas.

The centerpiece of the “Force of Nature” exhibition was “The Gulf Stream” (1899; reworked by 1906). The painting depicts a black man leaning back on the deck of his boat. The boat’s mast and rudder are broken, and the ocean is teeming with sharks. According to art historians, “The Gulf Stream” is a work of aesthetic co-option and visualization of Black American history.

The exhibition included sketches and paintings of battle and camp life, fantastic tropical views, and wild seascapes. The works exhibited reflected Homer’s interest in conflict, race, and the relationship between humankind and the environment. They are all issues still relevant today.

The works used in the exhibition reflected Homer’s war illustrations and paintings and his travels to France, England, and the Bahamas. After the war, his main subject became the lives of Americans after the war and abolition. He focused on the everyday lives of formerly enslaved African Americans.  


Why the Works of the Painter Winslow Homer are so important

The “Force of Nature” exhibition emphasized again that Homer has a huge standing in the history of American art. Art critics agree that his depictions of soldiers from the Civil War, the post-emancipation black African American people, and dramatic seascapes are iconic.

His experience as a magazine illustrator taught him to catch scenes of human drama effectively. This aspect influenced his later works, including even the Winslow Homer seascapes.

Because Homer loved nature, most of his paintings depict life outside. He was fascinated by nature’s power and the ways humans had to overcome obstacles caused by nature. Homer was especially fascinated by the sea and the power of the sea.

His paintings with African Americans as subjects are significant. His paintings catch sensitive moments of the everyday life of Black Americans. Two excellent examples are “The Cotton Pickers” (1876) and “Dressing for the Carnival” (1877).  


Winslow Homer’s Paintings Exhibited at “Force of Nature.”

To know all about Winslow Homer paintings and why he was such an influential American painter that a UK exhibition was dedicated to his works, let’s look in more detail at his life and his works. He started his career as a commercial illustrator and an American Civil War correspondent. Later, he left illustrations, started to create oil paintings, worked very successfully in watercolor, and experimented with etching.

To understand his work better, you have to remember that he lived and worked during the period known today as the American Renaissance. It was when American architecture and the arts were renewed with national self-confidence and a feeling that the United States was the heir to Roman Renaissance humanism.

His mother also had a great influence on him. He got his first art lessons from his mother, a talented watercolor artist. According to many art critics, one of the best characteristics he received from Henrietta was her dry sense of humor and her artistic eye.

He enjoyed a happy childhood, and art historians agree that his good childhood played a role later in his decision to depict simple life and environments in his paintings.


Winslow Homer Artist – Beginning of his Career

Homer started as an illustrator for magazines when he was 21 years old. He freelanced and provided imagery and reports from the frontlines during the American Civil War.

He created illustrations of aspects of the Civil War, such as the women who acted as nurses or wrote letters for soldiers. He also depicted the African-American teamsters at work or rest.

These different unique perceptions of the Civil War made his works very popular and influenced his later paintings, including the famous Winslow Homer sea paintings. In addition, he loved to depict the soldiers’ “everyday lives.” These works include, for instance, illustrations of soldiers celebrating Thanksgiving or playing football. He even depicted how the soldiers lived in the barracks, including when they ate their meals.

His illustrations were popular because they made the War front relatable for family members and friends at home.


Characteristics in Artist Winslow Homer’s Watercolor Paintings – showcased in the “Force of Nature” Exhibition.

If you check out Winslow Homer’s watercolor paintings, you’ll find that he always worked on natural visual sensations, outdoor color, and light. However, in Winslow Homer’s watercolor and earlier oil paintings, you’ll discover that he disregarded the traditional ways of using light.

Because he had the talent to combine the qualities of color, pigment, and line, his illustrations were also always based on direct observations of nature.



The famous painter Winslow Homer is well-known for his images and perceptions of the American Civil War, marine subjects, seascapes, and symbolism in some of his depictions of women and children. The exhibition “Winslow Homer: Force of Nature” in the UK in 2022 gave a good summary of his work and his influence.