Scott Greene on Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer, The Herring Net, 1885, oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 48 3/8 inches (Art
Winslow Homer, The Herring Net, 1885, oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 48 3/8 inches (Art Institute of Chicago)

Scott Greene considers Winslow Homer’s The Herring Net (1885) in the collection of the Art Institute Chicago.

Greene writes: "Like most great traditional paintings, 'The Herring Net' is a bundle of contradictions. The sensuous, lapping applications of paint are loose and free, yet bound by observation and specificity. The jagged naturalistic mountains of water soften and shimmer through sfumato like a fading dream. Foreshortening compresses volume, creating a bold, graphic quality and expanding the sense of scale. An intimate glimpse surrounded by vast emptiness suggests isolation and vulnerability. Color values and hues are so close in places that, like a Morandi still-life, distinction between man and boat dissolves."