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Original Issue

Water, color and sun

Winslow Homer captured the carefree summer life of children by the sea

The adventurous play of children on a warm summer's day variously stirs watching adults to alarm, annoyance or a loving understanding of the delights at hand. This last was certainly true of Winslow Homer, who felt a special sympathy with youthful pastimes, be it an active game of snap-the-whip or the more tranquil pursuits shown on these pages. Homer, who is perhaps best known for his paintings of the Adirondacks (SI, Sept. 6, '54) and the Bahamas, devoted many of his works to the childhood scene. These bright watercolors were done in 1880 when he took up residence with the lighthouse keeper on Ten Pound Island in Gloucester harbor. There he remained, painting the summer life around him in watercolors instead of conventional oils, never leaving except occasionally to row ashore for supplies. Although New England has changed since Homer's time, summer artists still find the children, sunshine and sea which so entranced their distinguished predecessor.

In Gloucester harbor children play in the shallow water. This painting and the one above now hang in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

Four children fish for crabs in Gloucester harbor. The freshness and transparency of color in this picture, probably also painted about 1880, are typical of Homer's technique at that period.