Harvard Art Museums’ Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director Martha Tedeschi, discussing in an interview Homer’s Summer Night said: One of the things that I think is so successful in this picture, and that I love about Homer in general, is that it evokes things that he could not have possibly painted into the picture, like sound. There are two young women dancing on a porch. That immediately implies that there’s probably music playing. And in fact, an early title of this picture was “Buffalo Gals” after the popular song. So with that title in mind, and looking at the women dancing, you could almost start humming that song to yourself and the lines “Buffalo gals won’t you come out tonight, and we’ll dance by the light of the moon.” There is also the silhouetted group of people to the right of the picture who appear mesmerized by the sound of the crashing waves and the light flickering across the surface of the water. Homer conjures the sound of relentless splashing and churning. You can feel the spray, you can feel that cool breeze coming across that moonlight sea… https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/03/winslow-homers-summer-night-examined-at-harvard-art-museums/m
This nocturnal scene by the sea transcends observed reality through a keen sense of poetry and mystery… this is how the Musée d’Orsay experts describe Homer’s Summer Night. The light and shade effects blur shapes, the experts continue while the ghostly silhouettes of two women dance on the shore. Although it may well have been influenced by Courbet’s Waves, the lyricism tinged with mysticism expressed by Homer helped develop a feeling for nature that is peculiarly American. https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire/commentaire_id/summer-night-2970.html
Winslow Homer is one of the finest 19th century American Artists. His career started as a graphic reporter during the American Civil War with paintings like Home, Sweet Home, and Sharpshooter on Picket Duty, of 1863, or Prisoners from the Front, of 1866 defining his early career. The late 1860s and the 1870s were, however, the artist’s finest years of artistic experimentation and prolific and varied output. Living and working in New York, but traveling to Paris, in late 1867, for the exhibition of two of his Civil War Paintings at the Exposition Universelle, Homer came face to face with the French avant-garde, and although there is little likelihood of influence, the artist shared their subject interests, their fascination with serial imagery, and their desire to incorporate into their works outdoor light, flat and simple forms (reinforced by their appreciation of Japanese design principles), and free brushwork. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/homr/hd_homr.htm
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