"A Youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, / A banner with the strange device, Excelsior"
Homer was often commissioned to illustrate the work of such respected contemporary authors as Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Their poems frequently appeared in gift books, which were usually decorative, deluxe editions of poetry or a single poem that were published each autumn for the Christmas season. The four illustrations for Excelsior on view here were also published the same year as Homer’s contribution for the gift book Christmastide. The highly symbolic poem about the tragic end of youthful genius driven by the irresistible motive to excel did not translate well into visual form and these images lack the naturalism that infuses most of Homer’s art. Here the “strange” youth of the poem sets out on his solitary Alpine climb to the heights of achievement.
Image: 3 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. (7.9 x 8.3 cm)
Sheet: 8 1/2 x 6 in. (21.6 x 15.2 cm)
Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)
This item is not on view
Gift of Harvey Isbitts
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