Ted Barrow

  • Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream, 1899, oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 49 1/8".
    slant July 28, 2022

    Shark Tale

    WINSLOW HOMER loved a good repoussoir: Locking the foreground and background into a taut tug-of-war charged his small paintings with titanic vigor. Rocks, waves, boats, and leaping fish bound toward the viewer, while some kind of natural force draws the eye back into the painting. That push-and-pull is emotional as well as compositional: We do not know whether to sympathize with or ridicule his subjects.

    What, then, are we to make of the repoussoir in Winslow Homer’s The Gulf Stream, 1899: a dark, red-flecked wave swelling in the foreground and teeming with criss-crossing sharks? Based on sketches