Boston art lovers might want to pencil in a trip to Maine on their calendars for next fall. Winslow Homer's studio at Prouts Neck will open to the public on Sept. 24, 2012 and should be a major new destination for cultural tourism and scholarship. The Boston-born painter, who is buried in Cambridge's Mt. Auburn Cemetery, lived and painted at the studio from 1883 until his death in 1910. It's already a National Historic Landmark.
The studio was purchased by the Portland Museum of Art in 2006 from Charles Homer Willauer, the great grand-nephew of Homer. The museum has raised $8.5 million toward a $10.5m goal to support the acquisition, preservation, and future of the Studio. It has been restoring the building to the period when Homer lived there.
"The opening of the Winslow Homer Studio will be a pivotal moment in American art history. For the first time, visitors will be able to experience the Studio as it was during Homer';s time and discover the actual location where he created his best-known paintings," Museum Director Mark H. C. Bessire said in announcing the opening.
OK, "pivotal" might be a little much, but there's no question this is big news for art lovers.
Homer's work includes many iconic images of the New England coast (Gloucester figures prominently after Maine). To celebrate the opening, the museum will present Weatherbeaten: The Late Paintings of Winslow Homer, on view September 22 through December 30, 2012. Comprising more than 30 major oils and watercolors painted at the Studio, Weatherbeaten will feature works from museums including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.
The Portland museum rightly boasts of its Homer collection. Homer first exhibited at the Museum in 1893, showing the painting "Signal of Distress." In 1976, philanthropist Charles Shipman Payson gave 17 Homer paintings to the Museum and $8 million to build an addition to house the collection. The museum also holds his first oil painting, "Sharpshooter," and a nearly comprehensive collection of 400 illustrations.
Tickets for studio tours won't go on sale until next summer, but if you want to start making plans now, click to www.portlandmuseum.org.
Image credit: Winslow Homer
United States, 1836 - 1910
oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 48 3/8 inches
Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Bequest of Charles Shipman Payson. Photo by Melville D. McLean.
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