Finding Winslow Homer: Prouts Neck, Maine
Ever so slowly, the figures in Homer’s painting began to play diminished roles, replaced by water rushing over stone. As I come upon Cannon Rock, it’s easy to realize that Homer didn’t simply paint scenes exactly as they looked. In actuality, Cannon Rock is off in the distance, not front and center as depicted in his oil. The artist used his imagination to crop, eliminate, and highlight some of the natural elements to further his own design.
Halfway along the Cliff Walk, the trail ascends, rewarding you with exquisite vistas of both land and sea. The jagged shoreline, rising to a crescendo, was the inspiration for High Cliff, Coast of Maine (National Gallery of Art, 1894). Heading back down, you reach Kettle Cove, where Homer would create his final work, Driftwood (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1909). In another epic clash of man-versus-sea, a fisherman tries desperately to salvage a log stuck in the rocks. Dressed in oilskins and a sou’wester, the man looks out at the stormy water and seems ill-suited to accomplish anything against the furious waves. As a final gesture, after finishing Driftwood, Homer scrambled the paints on his palette to officially declare his retirement.
Winslow Homer is buried in the family plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When he died, he became the painter against whom everyone else was measured, causing a flood of respected artists to visit the Maine coast. “Robert Henri, George Bellows, John Marin, Rockwell Kent, even Edward Hopper all came in the footsteps of Homer and had to deal with his legacy,” says Thomas Denenberg, chief curator at the Portland Museum of Art.
Today, the Cliff Walk is accessible to all, artists and nonartists alike, a glorious gift to art lovers, who can stroll straight into his masterworks.
READ MORE: Winslow Homer Locations