Winslow Homer Kissing the Moon Examined

Winslow Homer Kissing the Moon

National Review: Puzzling over Meaning in Winslow Homer's Kissing the Moon

Writer Brian T. Allen works on understanding Homer's large painting (30" x 40" inches) and finds a River Styx symbolism. Allen notes that Homer left no written info about the image, that it was a personal work and not a commission, and that Homer's later works contained few figures, so these particular three must've been purposefully placed and not just "appropriate decoration."

My first question, not discussed by Mr. Allen, is that Homer was one of three male children, and the three in the image could be he and his two brothers incorporated into an intense sea scene with a sunset (presumably not a sunrise) sky. On the right hand side the wave coloring is passing over the stern of the boat, also on the bow (see the two image snippets below). The waves action is either handled haphazardly, or is meant to imply a kind of ghostly effect around the edges of the boat, a translucency which might suggest the image is an apparition (or is becoming one).

More likely, though, the details such as these are just Homer not giving enough time to model the boat realistically as it dips and moves through the high waves.

The title itself, Kissing the Moon, may suggest a certain Homeresque humor that could be the central meaning in the image for the painter.

Stern of boat Winslow Homer Kissing the Moon

Boat Bow - Kissing the Moon Winslow Homer

For more: The Addison Gallery Collection of American Art - Kissing the Moon by Winslow Homer

See the fullsize image of the painting at WIkipedia

Winslow Homer – Breezing Up, 1876

Winslow Homer – A Light on the Sea, 1897

Winslow Homer – Right and Left, 1909

Winslow Homer – Kissing the Moon, 1904

Classical Painting Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice - AMAZON Published by Watson-Guptill, 256 pages

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Original page January 9, 2020 | Updated May 16, 2022

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