When queried about the meaning of The Gulf Stream, the seascape at the heart of the National Gallery’s current exhibition, its painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910) directed “these inquisitive schoolmarms” to the oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury who had described the Atlantic current as “a balance-wheel.” Maury further explained that the Gulf Stream is an “expression of One Thought, a unity with harmonies which One Intelligence, and One Intelligence alone, could utter.” The picture’s power depends on its ambiguity: tension coexists with hope.
Although Homer is best known for his marine paintings, his deepest immersion into the “unity with harmonies” was amid the freshwater wilderness he found over 40 years in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. His biographer William R. Cross will discuss these subjects, and the process of writing his recently released Winslow Homer: American Passage (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022), at The Courtauld.
William R. Cross is an independent scholar and a consultant to art and history museums. He served as the curator of Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter’s Journey, 1869–1880, a 2019 exhibition at the Cape Ann Museum on the formation of Winslow Homer as a marine painter. He is the chairman of the advisory board of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.
William Cross will also give a broader overview of Homer’s life and work at the National Gallery at 1 pm on 26 October: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/events/lunchtime-talk-winslow-homer-the-art-and-the-man-behind-it-26-10-2022
Organised by Professor David Peters Corbett (The Courtauld)