The present work, Morning--The Morning Mist, is one of the nearly ninety watercolors executed by Winslow Homer during his vacations in the Adirondack Mountains towards the end of the nineteenth century. Many scholars believe that these Adirondack watercolors are among the masterworks of his career, marking an important stage in his development as a painter. His skilled and unique use of saturated colors and light reflect not only the beautiful New York landscape, but also the emotional effects that nature inspired.
Morning--The Morning Mist is a statement on the emergence of the Adirondacks as a popular vacation destination towards the end of the nineteenth century. Beginning in 1886, Homer made regular visits to the North Woods Club, a private fishing and hunting preserve just outside of Minerva, New York. Homer and his brother Charles were charter members of the Adirondack retreat. Homer's passion for the outdoors paralleled the increasing interest in hunting and fishing among affluent businessmen of the day who took camping expeditions into the mountains for sport and recreation. The present work evokes a sense of the quiet isolation of the resort area, while the lush mountainside and open sky reflect Homer's passion for the great outdoors. "Part of the beauty we see in Homer's watercolors from the Adirondacks is his abandonment in his subjects, and his direct communication of his emotional response to the natural world." (N. Cikovsky and F. Kelly, Winslow Homer, Washington, D.C., 1995, p. 293)
Morning--The Morning Mist is a brilliant example of Homer's exploration of nature through the media of watercolor. Homer has painted the sky in Morning--The Morning Mist, with subtle variations of blue, gray and white hues. These washes relieve the heavy, darker tones of green and russet in the mountainside. Homer uses this application of watercolor as no other artist did at the time. He combined fluid, transparent washes and juxtaposed them with richer colors. Homer has painted a watercolor of great beauty and peacefulness as well as a work showcasing his unique style and talent for color. In 1911 the painter Kenyon Cox wrote of Homer's work, "in the end, he painted better in watercolors--with more virtuosity of hand, more sense of the right use of the material, more decisive mastery of its proper resources--than almost any modern has been able to do...The accuracy of his observation, the rapidity of his execution and the perfection of his technic increase together, and reach their highest value at the same moment. The one little square of paper becomes a true record of the appearance of nature, an amazing bit of sleight of hand, and a piece of perfect material beauty." (as quoted in Winslow Homer, p. 296)
Regarding the Adirondack watercolors of the 1890s, Judith Walsh states, "There is, in these works, an almost perfect exploitation of the transparency, fluidity, and apparent spontaneity of watercolor." (Winslow Homer, p. 284) Morning--The Morning Mist is an example of Homer's perfection in this medium. Using washes of paint, Homer gives the viewer a vivid sense of his surroundings and the feeling of the Adirondack landscape that so greatly affected him.
This work will be included in the forthcoming Spanierman Gallery/CUNY/Goodrich/Whitney catalogue raisonné of the works of Winslow Homer.