Many of Winslow Homer’s images of the Bahamas evoke the idea of the island as a paradise created especially for tourists. Enjoying local fruits was perceived as a fundamental luxury of the visitor experience, as one contemporary guidebook noted: “Oranges to daily break our fast in the morning, and delightfully crown our afternoon meal, are felt to be a necessity. Without them the most elaborate feast fails to satisfy.” This vibrant watercolor, Oranges On a Branch (1885), a rare still life by the artist, offers a complete sensory experience — ripe citrus, bright green leaves, and fragrant blossoms are bathed in warm sunlight.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Part of Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents, on Exhibit Through July 31st, 2022.
Wayne Thiebaud’s interest in investigating the properties of each medium lead him to create a series of works of the same subject using different techniques. In the pictured watercolor of Nine Jelly Apples (1964) he used a wide range of pink and purple hues to suggest the luminous surface of the confection. In the black ink version, he relied instead on the vivid dark and light contrast to emphasize shininess. In the pencil version, however, the exacting precision suggests the brittle surface of hardened sugar.
Along with Louis Comfort Tiffany, John La Farge (1835 – 1910) was a pioneer of stained glass design in the United States. Watercolor was especially well suited for developing the designs, because the transparency of the medium could suggest the glowing, gemlike tones of the glass. Autumn Scattering Leaves(1900), an allegorical representation of the season, was originally created as a stained-glass window proposal for a private home on Long Island. Although the patrons rejected this composition in favor of a figure in classical garb, La Farge exhibited the lyrical watercolor as an independent work.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.