Winslow Homer Studio, Portland Museum of Art

Winslow Homer, b 1836- d 1910
Prouts Neck, Scarborough, ME. The Winslow Homer Studio is operated by the Portland Museum of Art, Seven Congress Square, Portland, ME 04101 - view on Google Maps
(207) 775-6148
Winslow Homer spent his final decades living and working in this rustic structure, perched on Maine’s rocky coast, where he created powerful images of crashing surf and humankind’s struggles against the elements—paintings that are widely considered among the greatest masterpieces of American art. The Winslow Homer Studio provides an intimate experience of the place that inspired Homer’s most celebrated marine paintings. Visitors walk through the spaces in which he lived and worked, and see the ever-changing natural drama of the ocean crashing against the rocky shore.

ABOUT

In 1884, midway through a successful career that earned him acclaim as one of America’s most original artists, Winslow Homer moved from New York City to Prouts Neck, a small peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic about 12 miles south of Portland, Maine. He hired John Calvin Stevens, a Portland architect and leading proponent of the Shingle Style, to convert a carriage house into his residence and studio. One of the most distinctive features of the Homer Studio is a second-story balcony, “the piazza,” from which the artist enjoyed panoramic vistas of the ocean and coastline. While Homer traveled frequently, this rustic wooden structure served as his primary home and workspace until his death in 1910.

At Prouts Neck, Homer’s art changed dramatically in theme and mood. He abandoned the subjects of his early career (modern leisure pursuits and rural children) and turned to investigating humankind’s life-and-death struggles against the sea and the elemental power of nature. His marine narratives, such as The Life Line (1884, Philadelphia Museum of Art), The Herring Net (1885, Art Institute of Chicago), and Eight Bells (1886, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy), feature heroic figures of sailors, fishermen, and women battling the hostile forces of nature. Homer also created pure seascapes that captured the titanic force of waves crashing against the rocky shore in varying seasons and climactic conditions, including Weatherbeaten (1894, Portland Museum of Art), Northeaster (1895, Metropolitan Museum of Art), and West Point, Prouts Neck (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute). Painted with vigorous brushwork and closely observed realism, Homer’s Maine paintings influenced generations of artists and transformed marine painting in the United States. Highly acclaimed during Homer’s lifetime, these works continue to be considered among the greatest masterpieces of American art.

Did you know...?

Winslow Homer cultivated a reputation as recluse—he was called “the hermit of Prouts Neck”—and, in an attempt to deter curiosity-seekers who tried to visit the famous artist, he installed a sign in his yard warning: “Snakes Snakes Mice!” This original sign is displayed at the Homer Studio.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

The Homer Studio showcases a few of the surviving furnishings that belonged to the artist, as well as interpretive materials about his life, his career, and his influence on American art. These include didactic panels, reproductions of his works of art and period photographs, books, videos, and interactive discussions with the tour guide. At the Portland Museum of Art, there are original works of art by Homer, including his Prouts Neck masterpiece Weatherbeaten (1894). There is also a special gallery devoted to the Homer Studio with art and artifacts, as well as information on the artist and the Studio restoration project.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Guided tour of the interior and exterior of the Winslow Homer Studio
  • Explore artifacts and interpretive features that provide an overview of Homer’s career and oeuvre, the history of the Studio, the importance of Maine and direct observation of nature in his art, and Homer’s legacy on subsequent generations of artists
  • Experience the stunning panoramic vistas of the ocean that inspired Homer’s greatest works of art from the Studio’s second-story balcony
  • Walk in Homer’s footsteps on the cliff path along the shore to experience the drama of waves crashing against rocks
  • Tours leave from and return to the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, ME

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Homer’s artworks are represented in many museums throughout the United States, including the Portland Museum of Art. Major archives on the artist are held at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Maine)