Global Pursuits: Sunday Morning, Virginia

School Arts, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Global Pursuits: Sunday Morning, Virginia


Winslow Homer (1836-1910). Sunday Morning, Virginia. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24" (45 x 61 cm). Cincinnati Art Museum. John J. Emery Fund, 1924.247.

About the Art

Sunday Morning, Virginia depicts a group of African-Americans learning to read in a slave cabin after the Civil Wan A young teacher, wearing a crisp dress and apron, sits surrounded by three children as she teaches them to read the Bible. Most likely, the teacher does not come from the decaying plantation, as she is wearing bright, clean clothing and her hair is combed neatly, while the children are dressed in tattered clothing. The children huddle close to the teacher, listening to every word that she says. To the right of them, an elderly woman sits, holding a cane, and listens to the words of the teacher.

Although the children appear to be somewhat frightened or shy, they are thirsty for the knowledge and learning that they were deprived of during the Civil War. Sunday Morning, Virginia belongs to a group of paintings that Homer created during the mid-1870s while on his second visit to Virginia.

These paintings served as a commentary on the issues of literacy and religion and their role in the lives of free African Americans during the Reconstruction era.

About the Artist

Winslow Homer was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1836. As a young child, he became interested in art. At the age of nineteen, Homer began work as an apprentice at a lithographic firm in Boston. He had a limited amount of formal training, including a brief study at the National Academy of Design. …

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