Art and Artifice
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.
More Homer: Breezing Up, 1876
Original page January 9, 2020 | Updated October 2020