Two small beach scenes with children, by Winslow Homer – 1869

After some time of search, I have found fine HD pictures of these two oils by Homer I like much. The only problem with them (but in fact, with the paintings themselves) is the dirt they have accumulated during a century and a half (or almost). As it uses to happen with many oils and watercolours that have been in private hands for decades –sometimes in houses full of smoke from cigars and pipes and hearths and even oil lamps; and too heated in winter–, a dark greasy patina has stuck to their surface.

Now, one of these pretty oils belong to a museum (Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, New York, US) and the other to a private collection which, as far as I know, has the best possible care of all its items (Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Catalunya and España); so, most probably they have had a good cleaning. However, the pictures provided online by both institutions still look manifestly dirty, and I have done my best to “clean” them digitally (as you can see if you look also here and here); but probably it is not yet enough.

I am very aware that Homer was sometimes willingly dark, but not at that time (the late 1860s, in New England) and less when depicting pleasant scenes of children by the sea, playing in the surf like here.

Both paintings are small –the first one, very small–, and this adds much merit to the minute details they show (you may click on the pics below to see them conveniently enlarged). Both were painted at Long-Branch, New-Jersey, around 1869 –most probably close in time.

Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, New York, US.

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