TitleWinslow Homer and aestheticism, 1865-1880
NameAtkins, Ashley L. (author), Sidlauskas, Susan (chair), Sheehan, Tanya (internal member), Bellion, Wendy (internal member), Oedel, William (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Art for arts sake (Movement),
Homer, Winslow, 1836-1910--Criticism and interpretation
DescriptionThis dissertation explores the introduction of aestheticism to the United States through a close examination of the work of Winslow Homer from 1865 to 1880. I argue that Homer was consistently engaged with aestheticism from its early introduction to the United States in the years immediately following the Civil War. Throughout Homer’s career, aestheticism was not antithetical to realism, but an alternative approach to addressing the social and cultural changes of modern life. Homer drew from many cultural precedents and models to create an aestheticism that was not only representative of his individuality, but also uniquely American. In Chapter One, I explore the introduction of aestheticism to the United States through a review of contemporary writings, particularly that of Homer’s friend Eugene Benson, connecting these theories to the building of American cultural standards and institutions, in which Homer was actively involved during this period. Chapter Two examines Homer’s early exposure to European aestheticism, including an awareness of aesthetic paintings at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris, particularly the works of James McNeil Whistler. Since many of these early aesthetic works depict female figures, I likewise consider the gender implications of Homer’s work in this vein. Chapter Three examines Homer’s work from around the year 1875 when he began exhibiting aestheticist works more public exhibitions. Here, the critical response to his work plays an increased role in defining aestheticism’s progress in America. I examine the tensions that emerged in Homer’s work that grew from the critical expectation to ground his paintings with moral and realistic overtones while he simultaneously exploring issues of ideal beauty that developed in the aestheticist debate. Chapter Four studies Homer’s tile production from the late 1870s, exploring precedents as well as contemporary uses of tiles and other decorative arts in relationship to Homer’s work from this period. It examines the implications of the subjects that Homer used in these new experimental works, arguing that Homer’s work in this vein functioned within a complete decorative scheme that reflected the patrons’ morals and social fashioning.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 344-367)
Noteby Ashley Lyn Atkins
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.