The Herring Net 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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The Herring Net is a piece of fine art painted by Winslow Homer. It consists of two fishermen on a fishing boat, struggling with the ocean waves and the caught fish.

One of the fishermen is seated on the edge of the boat, emptying the fishnet while the other one has bent, heaving the net with shinny Herrings on to the boat. The fisherman heaving the net appears bigger and bolder than the other fisherman. Both fishermen appear to be harmonious with the fishing activity despite the turbulent situation. Themes that sum up The Herring Net are heroism, livelihood and harmony. To begin with, both fishermen have raincoats of the same color and the same design of hats. This shows they probably are from the same house. They also seem to share a mutual effort in the fishing activity. The bigger fisherman who seems older is heaving the net with the fish and the younger one is emptying the fishnet.

It seems dark due to the blurry dark atmosphere and the dark reflection of the sea implying nighttime, perhaps dawn. The fishermen are focused on their daily fishing activity so that they can fend for themselves and their families. Winslow Homer completed painting The Herring Net in the year 1885. These were the years when Homer focused on himself as he was in solitude. In the early 1880s, Homer traveled a lot. At a time, he went to England and painted the sea. He was intrigued at the sight of struggles of the fishermen at the sea and their women who waited for them at home as they cleaned fish, mended nets and maintained the houses. He depicts the livelihood of the fishermen in most of his art.

After Homer went back to America, the sea dominated his work greatly. At some point, the sea was the protagonist of his artistry. He traveled to and from Prouts Neck studio where he turned sketches into paintings. The Culler coat community in England had a way of style that inspired Homer’s way of artistry. The way they struggled in the sea for livelihood. Homer began focusing on the relationship humans had with nature, the battles humans had with nature for survival. The Herring Net is one of the portraits he did that depicted the battles of heroism. Even though Homer used to paint with watercolors, he used oil on canvas to paint The Herring Net. Check out the painting and the stories it harbors at the Art Institute of Chicago.