Netting the Fish

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Winslow Homer
American, 1836-1910

Netting the Fish, 1889

Transparent watercolor, heightened with opaque white watercolor, with rewetting, blotting, and scraping, over graphite, on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper
353 x 508 mm
Signed recto, lower right, in pen and brown ink: "Winslow Homer 1890, Copyright 1889"
Olivia Shaler Swan Memorial Collection, 1933.526

An avid angler and sportsman, Homer often depicted fishing and hunting scenes in his artwork. Many of his watercolors that explore these subjects were painted on frequent trips to the Adirondack Mountains. Netting the Fish is unusual in its focus on a gentleman sportsman. Young, well groomed, and neatly attired, the fisherman in this watercolor stands in contrast to the rustic guides featured in many of the artist’s other Adirondacks works. Homer’s fluid brushstrokes describe the smooth surface of the water, and his background washes evoke the wooded shoreline seen at a distance. Netting the Fish is one of Homer’s few grisaille, or monochrome, watercolors, painted as a study of values in preparation for the etching Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Water Colors and Drawings by Winslow Homer," October 14–December 4, 1944 (Gallery 13), no cat.

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, "The Graphic Art of Winslow Homer," November 1968–June 1970, cat. 105A, pl. 101.

Fort Worth, Tex., Amon Carter Museum, and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, "Casting a Spell: Winslow Homer, Artist and Angler," December 7, 2002–February 9, 2003, April 11–June 22, 2003, pp. 44 and 229, cat. 20 (ill.), cat. by Patricia Junker et al.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light," February 16-May 11, 2008, pp. 16, 23, 94, 139, 142, 143 (ill.), 145, 212, chap. 4 n. 17, cat. by Martha Tedeschi and Kristi Dahm.

Publication History

Theodore Bolton, “Water Colors by Homer: Critique and Catalogue,” The Fine Arts 18: 5 (April 1932), p. 54, as 'Man Fishing'.

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer (New York, 1979), pp. 200–01 and 286, fig. 302.

David Tatham, Winslow Homer in the Adirondacks (Syracuse, 1996), pp. 99–100 and 140, fig. 34.

Ownership History

Annie Swan Coburn (1856-1932), Chicago, by 1932 [Bolton 1932]; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.