This week CAM shines a spotlight on the upcoming anniversary of one of its most significant exhibitions, Homer at the Beach.

July 2, 2020

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks, 1880, Watercolor and white gouache on white wove paper, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop (1943.305).

Winslow Homer

This week CAM shines a spotlight on the upcoming anniversary of one of its most significant exhibitions, Homer at the Beach. As the largest and most ambitious exhibits organized by the Cape Ann Museum to date, Homer at the Beach ignited local interest and received national acclaim. In concert with a host of noteworthy programming and events, Homer at the Beach cemented CAM's leading role as a center of scholarship celebrating Cape Ann's seminal influence on the trajectory of American art and history. ■

Homer's The Life Line

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), The Life Line, 1884. Etching in brown ink on paper (artist’s proof). Cape Ann Museum. Gift of William Greenbaum and Ellen Solomon, 1993. [#2832].

Winslow Homer’s oil painting, “The Life Line”, completed in 1884, was to become one of his best-known works — and it remains so to this day. While the storm-driven water and sky provide drama, the title and its subjects provide the element of suspense (and suspension) made possible by an improved technology for transporting people from a wrecked ship to shore. This was achieved by means of a life line fitted with a traveling conveyor of the survivors, the breeches buoy. In focusing on the buoy and its occupants, Homer (justifiably) omitted the rest of the life line and equipment needed to move buoy and passengers to safety... continue reading.

George G. Stanwood, Jr. (1850-1919), Breeches Buoy model, 1890. Wood, paint, cordage, metal. Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1932 [acc. #632].

And for further information and images about life lines, read more here.

Watch a video by the U.S. Coast Guard of an actual demonstration

CAM Video Vault

Winslow Homer (1836-1910). Gloucester Harbor and Ten Pound Island, 1880. Watercolor on paper. Cape Ann Museum. Gift of the children of Harold and Betty Bell, 2010 [2010.28]

Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter's Journey, 1869-1880 was one of the Museum’s most visited exhibitions and lectures held at the Museum on the topic were equally popular events. Now, thanks to the CAM Video Vault and our neighbors at 1623 Studios, we’ve compiled three of these amazing lectures for you to revisit the excitement!

Homer at the Beach, Preview of Cape Ann Museum Exhibit "A Marine Painter's Journey"

To start, we travel across the street to the Sawyer Free Library, where just over a year ago now, Guest Curator Bill Cross gave a preview of the upcoming exhibition.

VL 56 - Winslow Homer: New Insights - Keynote Lecture by Sylvia Yount 10-04-2019

Then, back in the CAM Auditorium on October 4th was a lecture titled: Reconsidering Homer given by Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge, The American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. For a transcription of this, and other lectures from the CAM Video Vault, visit our Video Lecture Finding Aids & Transcripts page.

Homer's Wine-Dark Seas - Marc Simpson Lecture at Cape Ann Museum

For our ‘sunset’ lecture of this Virtual Winslow Homer Lecture Series, we look at independent scholar Marc Simpson’s lecture, Homer’s Wine-Dark Seas. This talk, held at the Museum, looks specifically at Homer’s sunsets and fireworks done in Gloucester during the summer of 1880.

CAM Kids

Steps to a Successful Exhibit

Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter’s Journey, 1869-1880 at the Cape Ann Museum. Photograph by CAM Staff, 9/26/2019.

The Cape Ann Museum has always shot for the moon. Over its 5-month span, Homer at the Beach saw just under 25,000 guests visit the museum. That was roughly a 40% rise in the number of visitors over the same span of time the year before. Docent and staff led tours were overbooked, walking tours and schooner sails filled to capacity, and the gallery alive with excited visitors. The public’s interest in seeing Winslow Homer’s work in the place where it was created was fully anticipated, and the Museum staff was engaged in planning for increased traffic months prior to the exhibit’s opening. Staffing levels in the reception area were increased, signage was added to allow for better flow through the Museum, and numbers of people in the galleries were carefully monitored and limited as necessary. The Cape Ann Museum looks forward to presenting exhibitions of a similar magnitude to Homer at the Beach in the future, and we can’t wait to welcome familiar faces and new audiences with comparable planning and safety measures when we are able to reopen to the public. ■