Crossing the Pasture
Oil on canvas
26 1/4 x 38 in.
on stretcher: Milch #17577
u.l., label: WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART \ 945 Madison Avenue, New York. N.Y. 10021 \ Artist Winslow Homer \ Title Crossing the Pasture \ Date 1872 Catalogue No. 18 \ Lender Andrew Hunter \ Exhibition Winslow Homer \ April 3-June 3, 1959
u.l., label: PAINTING BY AMERICAN ARTISTS \ WILLIAM MACBETH \ INCORPORATED \ 11 EAST 57TH STREET NEW YORK 22, N. Y. \ CROSSING THE FIELDS \ BY \ WINSLOW HOMER
u.r., label: No. 11 \ W. S. BUDWORTH & SON \ PACKERS & SHIPPERS \ 424 WEST 52D ST., NEW YORK, N. Y.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Homer initially earned his living as a Civil War correspondent, sending sketches of military life to editors in New York for reproduction in illustrated periodicals. After the war, he created paintings that explored the lingering aftereffects of the conflict, speaking to many Americans’ hopes and anxieties about the future of the nation.
In Crossing the Pasture, Homer addresses the war indirectly through a sentimental scene of rural childhood. Two boys stand in a sunlit field, sharing the weight of a metal bucket. A stick slung over his shoulder, the eldest positions himself protectively between his barefoot younger sibling and a bull standing near a stone wall. Portraying shared labor and brotherly protection, Homer’s picture offers a tender image of sibling unity in the wake of a divisive war that pitted many family members against one another.
—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)
Artist Winslow Homer created many artworks in his New York City studio that highlighted the charm of rural life and outdoor experiences. Crossing the Pasture is one of the largest canvases he painted related to this theme.
The focal point of the work is two young boys standing next to one another in the center of the painting. Both boys are looking to the left at something in the distance. The older, taller boy stands on the left with all of his weight on his rigid left leg; his right leg slightly bent. He wears a light-brown hat with a back flap that covers his ears; a light-brown jacket buttoned up to his neck; and light-brown pants with dark brown waders up to his knees. His right arm is bent, and he grips a long stick that rests on his right shoulder and reaches back behind him. His left hand hangs by his side and holds a silver pail. To his right is a younger boy who stands a little behind him. The younger boy is much smaller―the top of his head reaches the older boy's chest. He wears a dark cap; a white, long-sleeved shirt with brown suspenders; and dark pants that are rolled up just below his knees revealing his bare feet. His right arm is behind the older boy, and he is reaching his left arm across his body to help hold the pail.
A lush landscape surrounds the boys. Dark green hills crisscross the background, and a partly cloudy sky appears at the top of the canvas. A bright blue sky and white clouds starkly contrast against the darker greens below it. A tree with a stone wall and a bull are in the distance on the left. On the far right side sits a small cottage with a cow in the field. At the bottom of the canvas, Homer used short dashes and dabs of different greens, whites, and muted yellows to create the grass and wildflowers.