Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream

Article excerpt

Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream, by Peter H. Wood. Georgia, July 2004. $24.95

Weathering the Storm is an engaging study of one painting: Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream, painted in 1899. According to Peter H. Wood, who teaches history at Duke University, previous interpretations of the well-known painting can be divided into three categories: those that view The Gulf Stream as a universal allegory for crisis and rudderlessness; those that claim it depicts actual historical events; and those that describe the painting in personal or psychological terms, as Homer's representation of his own grief after the death of his father. Wood believes that these interpretations are inadequate on their own. In this book, based on his 2003 Lamar Memorial Lectures at Mercer University, Wood presents a persuasive new historical interpretation of The Gulf Stream, grounded in Homer's life and career and the history of slavery and race relations in America. The book is thus more than the modest analysis of a singlo painting that it initially appears to be; it also represents a challenge to scholars who assess paintings in strictly formal terms, without considering their social and cultural settings. …

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