Art and Artifice
ARCHIVE PAGE 32 - Summer 2020
Inside the VMFA in Richmond, Virginia
Winslow Homer Kissing the Moon
National Review: Puzzling over Meaning in Winslow Homer's Kissing the Moon
Writer Brian T. Allen works on understanding Homer's large painting (30" x 40" inches) and finds a River Styx symbolism. Allen notes that Homer left no written info about the image, that it was a personal work and not a commission, and that Homer's later works contained few figures, so these particular three must've been purposefully placed and not just "appropriate decoration."
My first question, not discussed by Mr. Allen, is that Homer was one of three male children, and the three in the image could be he and his two brothers incorporated into an intense sea scene with a sunset (presumably not a sunrise) sky. On the right hand side the wave coloring is passing over the stern of the boat, also on the bow (see the two image snippets below). The waves action is either handled haphazardly, or is meant to imply a kind of ghostly effect around the edges of the boat, a translucency which might suggest the image is an apparition (or is becoming one).
More likely, though, the details such as these are just Homer not giving enough time to model the boat realistically as it dips and moves through the high waves.
The title itself, Kissing the Moon, may suggest a certain Homeresque humor that could be the central meaning in the image for the painter.
Gilbert Stuart, portrait painting of Matilda Cruger
Jean-Claude Bonnefond artwork "Military Event from Napoleon's Spanish Campaign," 1823
Detail from Military Event from Napoleon’s Spanish Campaign, 1823 - by Jean-Claude Bonnefond, Virgina Museum of Fine arts
Lower level, National Gallery of Art
East Building Washington DC April 2019 - National Gallery of Art
Classical Painting Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice - AMAZON Published by Watson-Guptill, 256 pages
Original Page July 2019 | Updated May 2022