Great Masters Paint the Great Outdoors

In 1921 the Copley Society of Art had the pleasure to sponsor the notable exhibition, Watercolors by Winslow Homer, Dodge MacKnight and John Singer Sargent, held at the Boston Art Club. Below are just a few of the works from the exhibit, highlighting the skill of the three great watercolorists that once called Boston their home.

Winslow Homer, Adirondacks, Wood and Lake, 1889, watercolor over graphite pencil on paper, 14” x 20”, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Born in Boston in the year 1836, Winslow Homer is regarded as one of the greatest American painters of the 19th century. He began his career as a commercial illustrator, but shortly began working with oil paint and watercolor. Though he lived in New York City, he often traveled along the Hudson River and New England to camp, hunt, and sketch. His travels to New York inspired him to paint this serene watercolor of Adirondack Lake protected by the distant mountains, while a fisherman rows along the water in the foreground. Of Homer’s work, his seascapes are among his most highly regarded paintings. You can currently see Adirondacks, Wood and Lake at the MFA.

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John Singer Sargent, Camping at Lake O’Hara, 1916, watercolor, 15” x 20”, Newark Museum, New Jersey

John Singer Sargent is known as the premiere portraitist of his time. Yet, he also often painted impressionistic landscapes alongside the father of impressionism, Claude Monet. The artist found inspiration in the great outdoors just as Winslow Homer did, and in 1916 he traveled west to the Rocky Mountains to immerse himself in his creative inspiration. During his journey he stopped at Yoho National Park, where he spent a month painting scenes such as the one depicted above. Instead of painting the hidden blue-jeweled lake, Sargent focuses more on his companions and their day-to-day tasks as they rest on the forest floor.

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Dodge MacKnight, Sand Dunes, Cape Cod, c. 1920, transparent watercolor on rough-textured wove paper, 17 ¼” x 24”, Brooklyn Museum

As a local of the East Coast, Dodge MacKnight often looked for inspiration in the natural environment of the Cape during his long career as a watercolorist. The artist worked primarily in the style of post-impressionism, as this brilliant, painterly, and airy landscape depicts. In this watercolor MacKnight gives us a beautiful painting of Cape Cod, featuring a large sand dune underneath a stormy, cloud-filled sky. Due to his use of color and extreme style, many of his contemporaries regarded him as America’s first modernist.

As the Copley Society of Art enters its 140th year of history, we have many great exhibtions of the past to share with you and ones to look forward to in the future. Stay tuned to keep learning more about Co|So's history.