Picks and Pans Review: Winslow Homer Watercolors

updated 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Painter Winslow Homer dominates the landscape of 19th-century American art. Now, a landmark show, the first major survey of his watercolors, offers an exciting view of his work in this difficult medium. Homer didn't take up watercolors seriously until his late 30s. He produced nearly 700 of them during the rest of his life, frequently on working vacations in Upstate New York, Quebec, the Bahamas, Cuba and New England. The results, while not sentimental, were often romantic. Fresh Air (1878) is a luminous ode to a budding shepherdess. Like Bo Peep, she stands surrounded by her flock, the blue ribbon of her straw hat snapping in the breeze. Over the years, however, Homer's vision darkened. During visits to the Adirondack Mountains, a wilderness threatened by hunters and lumberjacks, he produced the masterpieces of his career. In Fallen Deer (1892), for instance, a dying animal tracked by an unseen hunter has fallen over a log onto its knees, its face half-resting in a pond, one eye gazing forward. As Homer once said prophetically, "You will see, in the future I will live by watercolors." At the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth until July 27, the exhibit travels to New Haven in September.

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