‘New’ Rowing Sketch By Homer

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from rowing historian Bill Lanouette of Washington DC. He enthusiastically writes about an interesting new find, a rowing sketch, a man in a single scull, from 1867, by American painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910). Bill writes, “We were in Memphis and visited the Brooks Museum, which had mounted a special exhibit of Homer’s newspaper, magazine, and book illustrations: Winslow Homer: From Poetry to Fiction. There it was, from English poet William Barnes’s Rural Poems – along with a sketch of a coxed four-oared race from another book. And my local library, the Library of Congress, had the book and the image. Your tax dollars at work!”

Bill thinks the poem, see below, is from a local race in England, probably County Dorset, as that is the place where William Barnes (1801-1886) lived and wrote. This is, indeed, very interesting, as the ‘rowing images’ by Homer that I was aware of were of fishermen rowing in their workboats, not any sport sketches of men racing. Great ‘find’, Bill, and thank you for sharing it with HTBS readers.

The exhibit is running between 29 October 29, 2010 to 2 January, 2011. Here is what the museum writes about the exhibit: “The evocative and beautiful wood engravings of Winslow Homer (1836-1910) captured American life in the decades before photography became the preferred medium for illustrating the news. Appearing in magazines such as Harper’s Weekly, his work offered a visual complement to stories of daily life, popular fiction, or major political events. The exhibition of 85 wood engravings includes a full range of Homer’s illustrations, from charming images of children at play or vacationers at the beach, to more somber depictions of soldiers on the front lines of the Civil War. Focusing on the early years of Homer’s career, it offers visitors a chance to experience the artist’s remarkably poignant and enduring images of life in the United States during the mid-1800s.”

Here is the poem “The Prize Winners” from Rural Poems by William Barnes:

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