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Winslow Homer

Bear Hunting, Prospect Rock
watercolor and pencil
13 15/16 x 20 1/16 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly

Guns ready, two grizzled hunters balance against a steep rock face that drops precipitously to a valley floor far below. Though no bear appears in the painting, the danger is palpable. The men are modeled on guides from the North Woods Club where Homer spent much of his time. Prospect Rock, located less than a quarter of a mile away from the clubhouse and reached by a graded trail, was one of Homer’s favorite spots to paint. He often rearranged or modified details of the landscape to suit his compositional needs. In this watercolor Homer presents man as an essential part of nature, neither overwhelmed by its grandeur, nor fully in control of the wilderness.