Homer, Winslow (American, 1836-1910) “Fly Fishing Saranac Lake.” Etching. The burnished Winslow Homer etching is signed lower left Winslow Homer 1889, copyright in the plate. It is also pencil signed Winslow Homer and numbered 66 lower right. Also titled in pencil along the bottom edge Fly Fishing Saranac Lake. The etching is mounted on what appears to be the original stretcher with remains of a paper on the reverse. The top left corner has a small tear and fold-mark that is not visible as it is underneath the frame. The etching is from a New York estate. The paper along the top edge is separated. The impression is in good condition with no damage or repair. In good condition. Sheet size 21 3/4" x 28 1/8th". Image measures 14 ” x 20 ” or 36 cm. x 52 cm. Stretcher measures 22 ” x 28 ”. The etching was acquired unframed, we added a gilt frame to protect and display the etching. Frame measures 27” x 33”. A very fine, rich impression of this print, perhaps the most highly sought after of the Homer etchings. There is a 10 photo limit below, but several additional photos showing the back of the frame, etc., can be seen on the catalog page of the Myers Auction Gallery website at myersfineart.com
Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake is the only composition which the artist created exclusively as a print, not after one of his paintings; it is also probably his last etching. Lifetime impressions of Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake are rarely seen on the market or encountered by collectors, but posthumous impressions of this print do appear from time to time, so it may be instructive to discuss the rather vast differences between the lifetime and posthumous impressions. The printing of Homer’s lifetime impressions was handled by George W.H. Ritchie who at first also attempted, with limited success, to sell the prints; later the print dealer C. Klackner handled the sales. Around 1900 the five plates in Ritchie’s possession were put in storage and no more prints were made from them until about 1940, when Charles S. White, who had bought the business from Ritchie, began to make posthumous prints. The plates were bought by Williams Ivins, Curator of Prints at the Met in 1941, and are still at the Met; Ivins then had White make additional plates under his supervision. Our impression compares favorably with the Met’s, which has some light tone, but the printing of their signed impression is very similar to ours. The Met impression, acquired in 1924, is printed on the same paper as ours, a relatively light simile japan; the Met also has a posthumous (unsigned) impression printed on a sturdier japan paper, as well as the plate. The signed prints are printed with rich plate tone in the figure and central areas, and the plate tone has been selectively wiped in other areas, resulting in a strong contrast between the central figures and the surrounding areas. The posthumous impression has much plate tone overall but no differentiation between the central area and the rest of the print. Thus, the central figure is printed rather dryly in the posthumous printing relative to the lifetime impressions. This is consistent with Goodrich’s discussion of the lifetime and posthumous printings (p. 19, Lloyd Goodrich, The Graphic Art of Winslow Homer; he inexplicably prefers the flat later printing, referring to the earlier printing as “romantic”!). There are many other differences as well. For example, the white area to the right of the fish was apparently burnished by Homer, to eliminate a number of lines and hazy shading; in the lifetime impressions the effect is a clear white as intended, but in the posthumous impression the use of heavy plate tone picked up some of these lines and hazy shading, thus defeating the desired burnished effect. The top right corner of the posthumous impression shows some blotching and spotting resulting from the corrosion of the plate; this area is evident on the plate itself. The lifetime impressions, made prior to this corrosion, show no such effects. From Askart: Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1836 and growing up in Cambridge, Winslow Homer became one of the all-time leading figures in American art, known for his marine genre paintings and for his espousing of realism, especially of American life. From the 1880s until his death in 1910, his work was focused on issues of mortality and the forces of nature such as violent storms at sea. Between 1884 and 1889, he did numerous etchings of his own paintings and watercolors.Homer had no formal artistic training until he was apprenticed to a lithographer, J.H. Bufford, but Homer disliked lithography and got work as an illustrator forBallou's Pictorial. From 1859 to 1883, he worked from New York for Harper's Weekly, and from October 1861 to May, 1862, was one of their Civil War illustrators. He served as a special correspondent to cover the outbreak of the War, and attached to the Army of the Potomac, and filled his sketch book with informal studies of uniforms, weapons and the daily activities of the individual soldiers. From this period, he gleaned subject matter that ultimately became some of the outstanding paintings of the Civil War. He also studied at the National Academy of Design where Frederick Rondel was a major influence, but during the early years of his career, illustration was his "bread and butter." After the Civil War, he traveled and studied in Europe for several years including France from 1866 to 1867, where he shared a studio in Montmartre with fellow artist Albert Warren Kelsey. Several small paintings are extant from that period as are the three illustrations for Harper's Weekly that had helped to finance his trip. He returned to New York and settled for thirteen years in New York where his studio proximity to that of Eastman Johnson, genre painter, was a major influence. Many of Homer's early New York paintings were of leisurely figures in landscape, reflecting his time in France influenced by the Impressionists. For much of his residency in New York, he lived and worked in the famous Tenth Street Studio Building, and became increasingly exploring in his subject matter--rural life, childhood remembrances including summers at Lake George, Saratoga Springs, and the Adirondack Mountains. One of his most famous paintings, Snap the Whip from 1872, owes much to French plein-air painting and to the genre style of William Sidney Mount. In 1873, he began working in watercolor, and many of his most acclaimed works are in that medium. From 1881 to 1882, he was in England near Tynemounth on the rugged coast of the North Sea at the small fishing village of Cullercoats, and he began doing scenes, harsher in tone, of figures struggling heroically in landscape. There he worked almost exclusively in watercolor. Settling permanently in the seclusion of Prout's Neck, a remote area on the coast of Maine, he strove not only for solitude but for the closest approximation he could find in the United States to that same English coast. At Prout's Neck, he was able to indulge his love of the outdoors, his fascination with the moods of the weather and the people in the landscape. He traveled all over for seascapes, boating, and sporting scenes and also made several trips to Caribbean Sea locations including Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba, where he did a number of marine scenes ominous in tone. Homer never married and in his most productive years lived a highly secluded life, seemingly content according to his letters and family accounts. In 2004, the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine began a two-year campaign to raise 12 million dollars for acquisition, preservation and endowment of Homer's studio at Prouts Neck. The Associated Press reported that on May 5, 1998, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, paid $30 million for Lost on the Grand Banks, the last major seascape by Winslow Homer still in private hands. The price paid at a secret private sale is easily a record for American art according to The New York Times, citing anonymous art experts. The 'Times' had the following: "The seller, John Spoor Broome, a businessman from Southern California, would not discuss the price or buyer. Broome bought "Lost on the Grand Banks" from his grandmother in the 1940s. The painting measures nearly 32 by 50 inches and portrays a dramatic image from 1885 of two fishermen in a choppy sea peering over the side of their small boat. "