Winslow Homer’s The Life Line from 1884 is marked contrast between the impersonal and dangerous forces of nature, as seen in the uproarious waves, and the cause of human empathy as an unconscious woman is saved from a shipwreck.
Winslow Homer relocated to a desolate part of Maine to pursue his art. It was there in solitude, he painted and sketched in the open air and worked up the finished canvases in his studio.
Homer’s Realist style heightens the dramatic immediacy of the scene and invites our sympathetic investment, it appeals to common human feeling. The man and woman are centered and figure largely in the composition. This signifies a human dignity of compassion, and foregrounds the importance of the preservation of life in the face of either an indifferent or hostile world.
Winslow Homer’s The Life Line can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art