One of the most well known artists to come out of the Civil War, Homer was born in Boston, Mass. February 24, 1836. At 19, Homer was apprenticed to a local lithographer, and his drawings were soon appearing in the illustrated periodicals of the day.
In 1859 he moved to New York City to study at the National Academy of Design, supporting himself by contributing drawings to Harper's Weekly. In 1861 Harpers sent him to Washington to sketch Abraham Lincoln's inauguration.
Homers initial war drawings for Harpers depicted Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's army on the banks of the Potomac in Oct. 1861. The following year he was dispatched as a "special artist" to cover the Peninsula Campaign. Though he did not serve again as a special, he made frequent excursions to the battlefronts and filled his sketchbook with drawings, from which he worked in his studio in New York.
Double-page woodcuts of his illustrations depicting battles and camp scenes appeared in Harpers throughout the war years. Homer was not specifically a combat artist; his work was concerned with the intimate moments of camp life and human interest rather than with the panorama of clashing armies. Supplied with his firsthand observations made at the front, he translated these drawings into canvases such as Yankee Sharpshooter (1862). In 1865 his painting Prisoners at the Front, depicting Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow questioning Confederate captives, was acclaimed by critics and immediately established his reputation as a painter of note.
After the war Homer contributed to Harpers illustrations dealing with a variety of subjects. He then devoted his talents exclusively to genre painting, becoming one of the foremost artists in America. He is famous for his Maine seascapes, woodland scenes in the Adirondacks and, in later years, watercolors of the Bahamas. He died at Prout's Neck, Maine, September 29, 1910.
Source: "Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War" Edited by Patricia L. Faust
RETURN TO CIVIL WAR BIOGRAPHY PAGE