Boys Wading Winslow Homer

Boys Wading: Winslow Homer

Boys Wading is a seascape watercolour on woven paper drawing by American artist Winslow Homer. It was painted in 1873 in the American Realist style. This work is located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., United States.

Boys Wading Analysis

Boys Wading (1873) is a paper composition by Winslow Homer showing two boys bending over in knee-deep water somewhere in a port.

Homer accomplished this picture by applying graphite to wove paper as a base and then painting in watercolour, Homer’s favourite medium, over it. The graphite-paper base explains the graininess of detail in this picture which is, furthermore, not structured with the aid of borderlines.

The scene may be set in Virginia, a state which Homer was traversing regularly in the early 1870s, sketching very many visions of peasant life. In this case, he seems to have noticed a pair of boys who have waded into the water at a port.

The upper register is occupied by a verdigris boat lying broadside and looking, thanks to its colouration, almost like an extension of the body of water to his side.

What is remarkable in this picture is the metallic translucency of the water, most especially in the space surrounding the two boys, where it also picks up their reflections (the sun, we realise, is right above the boat and depot houses along the pier). It is an amazingly fine rendition through watercolour, enabled by the peculiar material base, of a naturalistic effect of sunlight skidding across the water and making it appear splendid and alive.

Boys Wading Location

This work is located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., United States.

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