Learn more about the surprising tool that inspired Winslow Homer at one of Maine's premier art museums.

By Peter Terzian
July 11, 2018
Credit: Courtesy of Bowdoin College Museum of Art; Dennis Griggs, Tannery Hill Studio

Since the invention of the camera in the early 19th century, painters from Bonnard to Munch to Hockney have carried on a complicated dance with photography. This summer, a new exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine, takes a look at how the American painter Winslow Homer embraced the new medium — and how it changed the way he viewed his subjects and approached the canvas.

High Cliff, Coast of Maine, 1894, oil on canvas by Winslow Homer. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William T. Evans.
| Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC / Art Resource, NY.; Courtesy of Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Homer, one of New England's most famous landscape artists, acquired a dry plate camera in 1882 during a two-year stint in England.

He would continue to take photos while traveling — to Quebec, Florida, and elsewhere — and at his seaside cottage on Prouts Neck, the rocky spit of land outside Portland where he painted the maritime scenes for which he’s most famous.

Credit: Courtesy of Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting, which runs until October 28, features a generous selection of Homer’s paintings and drawings, photos of Homer taken by friends and family members, and an intriguing assortment of his belongings and tools of the trade that includes two cameras, brushes, wooden modeling figurines, and Homer’s walking stick.

Need more inspiration for planning a summertime vacation in Maine? Check out our guide for a perfect weekend in Portland, one of the region's coolest cities, or take a perfect road trip along the state's famous rocky coast.

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