Watercolors by Winslow Homer


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The Color of Light

Martha Tedeschi with Kristi Dahm; Contributions by Judith Walsh and Karen Huang


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Out of Print

American painter Winslow Homer (1836–1910) created some of the most breathtaking and influential watercolors in the history of the medium. This handsome volume provides a comprehensive look at Homer’s technical and artistic practice as a watercolorist, and at the experiences that shaped his remarkable development. Focusing on 25 rarely seen watercolors from the Art Institute’s collection, along with 75 other related watercolors, gouaches, drawings, and paintings––including many of the artist’s characteristic subjects––the book proposes a new understanding of Homer’s techniques as they evolved over his career.


Accessibly written essays consider each of the featured works in detail, examining the relationship between monochrome drawing and watercolor and the artist’s lifelong interest in new optical and color theories. In particular, they show how his sojourn in England—where he encountered leading British marine watercolorists and the dynamic avant-garde art scene—precipitated an abrupt change in technique and subject matter upon his return home. Conservators address the fragility of these watercolors, which are prone to fading due to light exposure, and demonstrate, through pioneering research on Homer’s pigments and computer-assisted imaging, how the works have changed over time. Several of Homer’s greatest watercolors are digitally “restored,” providing an exhilarating glimpse of the original impact of Homer’s groundbreaking color experiments.


Martha Tedeschi is curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago and co-author of the catalogue raisonné The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler (Yale), winner of the Wittenborn Prize. Judith Walsh, formerly paper conservator at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, is a professor in the Art Conservation Program at Buffalo State University. Kristi Dahm is assistant conservator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.


The Art Institute of Chicago (February 16 – May 11, 2008)

"Besides reproducing a stunning array of Homer's watercolor paintings, the text offers a highly specific description of the artist's process and materials, articulating the different uses of opaque and transparent watercolors and varying paper textures in a technical but reader-friendly manner. . . . The text is also thorough in examining Homer's influences, from Impressionism to the English Aesthetic Movement, as well as his conceptual ties to his contemporary, Walt Whitman. The result is a superior read for those seeking an introduction to the medium of watercolors or an exploration of Homer's work."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This beautifully illustrated catalogue . . . offers a chronological investigation into Homer’s watercolour production throughout his life as well as in-depth analysis of his technique and use of materials.” - Burlington

ISBN: 9780300119459
Publication Date: February 26, 2008
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Art Institute of Chicago
228 pages, 11 3/8 x 10
270 color illus.
Coming Away

Winslow Homer and England

Elizabeth Athens, Brandon Ruud, and Martha Tedeschi

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Edited by Achim Borchardt-Hume, Gloria Groom, Caitlin Haske

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