I had the day off from work yesterday, and spent most of it outside.

Winslow Homer, Making Hay, wood engraving from “Harper’s Weekly”, July 6, 1872, p.529. National Gallery of Art, Gift of Addie Burr Clark. Public domain. Click to open larger image in new window.

Our grass was not quite so tall as in this 1872 woodcut, but it still needed attention, as did a few overgrown shrubs.

I hope you are well.

Back soon with more history.



Today’s illustration is by the celebrated American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910), “regarded by many as the greatest American painter of the nineteenth century.” Met Museum curator H. Barbara Weinberg has written a compact biography and appreciation (here) to support that claim, and Wikipedia has a good introduction to Homer’s life and works, with many examples of his work (here).

Homer’s most significant mature works are paintings, both oils on canvas and watercolors, and often feature marine subjects. Today’s image is an earlier work, one of his many illustrations.

Homer’s career as an illustrator lasted nearly twenty years. He contributed illustrations of Boston life and rural New England life to magazines such as Ballou’s Pictorial and Harper’s Weekly at a time when the market for illustrations was growing rapidly and fads and fashions were changing quickly. His early works, mostly commercial wood engravings of urban and country social scenes, are characterized by clean outlines, simplified forms, dramatic contrast of light and dark, and lively figure groupings—qualities that remained important throughout his career. His quick success was mostly due to this strong understanding of graphic design and also to the adaptability of his designs to wood engraving.


And in case you missed it, we discussed several 19th-century mowing and scything tools and techniques in our June 4, 2021, post Time to mow…