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Jessie Remained Alone at the Table

Winslow Homer

American Art

Regarded as one of the great American Realists of the nineteenth century, Winslow Homer is known primarily for his large body of works in oil and watercolor. However, he also had an early career as a freelance illustrator, making drawings for wood engravings that were reproduced in mass-circulation periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly. In 1998, the Brooklyn Museum received a generous gift of more than 250 wood-engraved illustrations by Homer from Harvey Isbitts.

Homer drew five illustrations for the serialized novel, Beechdale, by Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune (writing under the pseudonym Marion Harland). The novel, featuring the young heroine Jessie, is a romantic tale centering on duty, false love, and moral conflict. In the story, Jessie is embraced by local society, especially by the Provosts, while staying with extended family. Mr. Provost encouraged modern forms of recreation for his daughters such as billiard playing. On one afternoon at the Provost home, Jessie overhears unsettling gossip concerning a previous marriage engagement that Roy Fordham had broken. Despite Jessie’s isolation at the billiard table, Homer deftly insinuated the idea of her attentiveness to the conversation by positioning her bright, crisply defined head on the same compositional line occupied by the less distinctly rendered heads of the group behind her.

MEDIUM Wood engraving
DATES 1868
DIMENSIONS Image: 7 x 5 3/4 in. (17.8 x 14.6 cm) Sheet: 9 1/4 x 5 7/8 in. (23.5 x 14.9 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Harvey Isbitts
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Illustration for Marion Harland's "Beechdale," from The Galaxy, July 1868, vol. V, opposite p. 68
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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