Undertow ~ A Painting by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910), Undertow, 1886. Oil on canvas, 29 13/16 x 47 5/8 in. (75.7 x 121 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.4

Undertow (1886) by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), known mostly for his paintings of the sea and marine subjects, was one of the most important American artists of the 19th century.

His 1886 painting, Undertow, is based on an incident he witnessed in 1883 off the coast of Atlantic City. Rescuers are pulling two women ashore who are in danger of being pulled under. The rescuers, modeled on ancient Greek marble statues, appear as three-dimensional. In spite of their apparent strength and muscularity, their struggle suggests they are no match for the power of the sea.

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