A Basket of Clams Winslow Homer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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A Basket of Clams is a watermark painting done in 1873. Initially, the painting set up as a watercolor experiment since the artist was still an amateur at watermarks. However, its fame and success encouraged the artist to come up with multiple watermarks of children playing in dories, children engaging in chores, among others.

The painting, A Basket of Clams, is a one of a kind canvas whose characters are two males in the teens. The two are walking on a beach while carrying a rusty metallic basket. The content of the basket is unknown. However, judging from the title, one can only assume that the basket has calms.

Breaking Down A Basket of Clams

The painting has a lot of information to talk about. For a start, the two characters offer a lot of discussion points for the audience. Both the two are walking are on the beach with the shadows directly beneath them. As such, this suggests that the painting was done during the day when the sun was just above them. Also, worth noting is their unique clothing that displays a uniform swag. For instance, both of them have a hut on and long-sleeved shirts that have vests on top. Further, their trousers are also tacked midway, with their feet bare. As a result, this suggests that they were working on the mad or a pool of water.

The painting also has a wide stretch beach full of shells, pebbles, seaweeds, and a dead fish. These must have been brought ashore by the high tides. At the left bottom of the beach is a well-hidden signature. The signature is in black with Homer's name sinking in the sand; as such, it is only visible when one is attentive. In the background is a sailor's boat, a wall, and a residential area flocking with homes. The boat seams deadwood judging from where it's anchored. Further, this could be true since most of its sails are loose and not as maintained. According to many, the background of the painting is a reference to Gloucester's maritime activity.

The Bottom Line

As seen above, the painting describes Homer as an idol in the painting world. For instance, he sums up the modest responsibilities of childhood with only two characters. In addition to this, Homer's use of detail gives this painting a vigorous design that is not only dazzling but also engaging. Despite the above, Homer's success with the piece was due to his obsession with children.