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Summer Night

Artist: Winslow Homer
Created: 1890
Dimensions (cm): 74.9 x 101.0
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

Summer Night

In 1890, American landscape artist Winslow Homer painted ‘Summer Night’, a serene scene of happiness by the ocean in Maine. Illuminated by the glowing moon, waves slowly rise and fall against the rocks, while a small gathering of dark figures watch two women dancing together on the beach. The slight uplifting of the lady’s skirt implies that there is a gentle breeze blowing on this summer evening. The infinite horizon, the green and black hues of the night sky, and the rolling shadows on the water give the painting a sense of surreal transcendence, a dream-like ambience, a ghostly aura. Whatever Winslow Homer intended the scene to signify is inconsequential as its beauty undeniably lures its viewers into it, without exception. The lace-like pattern of the moonlight rippling on the ocean waves is unique to Homer, whose artistic skill can poetically paint a sensation of desire and intrigue upon the surface of a canvas. ‘Summer Night’ seems to offer onlookers a never-ending, mystical tale.

Analysis

“Homer's figures are all like the two women dancing on a ‘Summer Night’, slowly and formally dancing in the presence of shadowy figures and a shadowy sea, made alternately shimmering and dangerous by the cast of light. This was his America, the possibility of everything terrible and wonderful, caught for a moment under his eye. The search could lead anywhere. The diversity was endless, and who could tell what such a rich, grand, brooding place would make of itself? Like another powerful civilization, America had its Homer, but he could make no effort yet. He put America on display as a work in progress, dark and light, fearful and lovely, very rough at the edges, and ours.” – Roger Rosenblatt (Transcript taken from PBS.org)

‘Summer Night’ by Winslow Homer is located at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France.

 

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