Boys in a Dory 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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Painted in 1880, Boys in a Dory by Winslow Homer is a watercolour and graphite on paper painting of size 25.4 x 35.6cm. The painting depicts a scene if three boys in a rowboat.

One can easily notice that the central figure in the image is the boy who sits at the front of the boat as the other two figures are not as profound as he is. The boy has dark pants, a blue shirt and a hat and is staring at the deep sea. He seems to be deep in thought and having a feeling of loneliness even if he is in the company of the other two boys. Just like most of his paintings, homer takes the position of a viewer at a distance to capture a wider area. Apart from the subjects, there are also two sails in the background and a wide composition of the sky. The painter brings life to the image through the use of different colour shapes to portray waves and darker shades of brown, blue, black and red for the boat’s shadow.

The style used in this painting is realism. Realism is a form of art that focuses on the everyday life of ordinary people. Most of the Realist artists rejected Romanticism, which was mostly about mythological figures. After serving in the American Civil War, Homer turned his art into the everyday views of rural America. Most of his paintings were about people’s activities in the sea and at the seaside. Boys in a Dory by Winslow Homer is currently at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C as a gift of Sam Rose and Julie Walters. This museum also has one of the world’s most inclusive collections of art made in the USA.

Homer was more of a self –made artist as he only studied the basics of art in a month, but he was not new to watercolour as his mother was an armature watercolourist. His mother could have been his first art teacher, but he decided to pursue art as a career soon after the end of the civil war. His career as a magazine illustrator at the Virginia front of the civil war may have also inspired him.