Winslow Homer was one of the first American painters to liberate watercolor from being simply a tinted drawing and to develop it as an independent medium. Especially in his later watercolors, Homer attained his purest artistic values through his painterly handling and use of saturated colors. His watercolors expressed a poetic vision not often found in his oil paintings.
Late in his career, Homer, an avowed sportsman, took fishing vacations to various places. In the spring of 1890 he visited the St. Johns River in Florida. The landscape stimulated in Homer a more spontaneous expression and pure visual sensation of nature. He painted scenes on the spot with a deft, fluid brush in full-bodied color. In this work, one of forty known from his various Florida visits, Homer simply and directly portrayed Florida topography as a vast expanse of river and marshes, punctuated by four swaying palm trees. Homer merged the epic with the mundane as he placed the stark white rowboat and three fishermen in this solitary habitat. The towering, indigenous palm trees stand as testaments to the dominance of nature over man.
“From Ninah Cummer’s personal collection! Sweet watercolor in the Florida feel!” – anonymous