Please note


Winslow Homer Lecture Series: Homer's Wine-Dark Seas

Saturday, September 14

2:00 p.m.

Exhibition Related Programs, Lectures, Readings, Films

Winslow Homer (1836–1910), Sunset Fires, 1880. Watercolor on paper, 93/4 x 13 5/8. The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Gift of the William A. Coulter Fund, 1964.36. 


Presented by Marc Simpson, Independent Scholar

From 1873 to at least 1905, Winslow Homer made watercolors that figure among the most glorious of his achievements. "You will see," he said, "in the future I will live by my watercolors"—and this has proven to be the case. But even in the context of these remarkable accomplishments, his views of sunsets and fireworks done in Gloucester in the summer of 1880 stand out. Consideration of them, and of a small cluster of later works, prompts reflections on both Homer’s spirituality and his heroism. These in turn, especially in the context of comparisons that have been made between Homer and his colleague James McNeill Whistler, raise questions about how we write art history.

This program is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter’s Journey, 1869 – 1880. Cost is $10 for Museum members; $20 nonmembers (includes admission). Tickets available online at Eventbrite or by calling (978)283-0455 x10.


Marc Simpson received a BA from Middlebury College (in both music and art) and an MA, MPhil and PhD from Yale University, with a dissertation devoted to the American artists and writers working in the Worcestershire village of Broadway in the 1880s. He has held curatorial posts in American art at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (1983-94) and at the Clark Art Institute (2004-09), and has worked at the National Gallery of Art (1982-83) and the Yale University Art Gallery (1976-1980). From 1994 to 2000 he worked for the Getty Information Institute’s Bibliography of the History of Art. In 2000 he was appointed Associate Director /Lecturer in the Graduate Program in the History of Art at Williams College, from which he retired in 2013. He also has held adjunct faculty posts at UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

Simpson has worked principally on topics in late 19th-century American art, with an emphasis on the work of Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler. He has numerous book and exhibition reviews published in such periodicals as Burlington Magazine and online, as well as independent essays on the proper viewing distances for Homer’s works (2018), Eakins’s Meditation (2015), caricatures done in Broadway in the 1880s (2010), Homer’s paintings of milkmaids (2000), 19th-century critics’ linking of Sargent and Velázquez (1998), the earliest exhibition of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1997), and Eakins’s Arcadian works (1987).

Simpson has lectured widely in the United States and occasionally in Europe. He has served on a variety of museum and foundation advisory boards, prize and academic committees, and as a reviewer of manuscripts for academic publishers and periodicals. He has received honors and fellowships from the Victorian Society in America, the Terra Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and he held a Fulbright Fellowship in Great Britain. He is currently at work on a biography and collection history of Ferdinand Howald, who formed one of the preeminent collections of American modernism in the early 20th century. Simpson now lives in Bennington, Vermont, with his wife, the art editor and historian of 19th-century French art Fronia Wissman Simpson.


EXHIBITION RELATED PROGRAMS     This lecture is the third in a series of four lectures offered in conjunction with Homer at the Beach. In addition, a two-day scholarly symposium, walking tours, sailing excursions, extended viewing hours, CAM members events and children’s programs are also scheduled.

Download a program guide here


Winslow Homer and Women’s Bathing Practices
Saturday, August 17, 10:30 a.m.
Elizabeth Block, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Winslow Homer: Picturing the Tropics
Thursday, August 29 at 7:00 p.m.
Dana Byrd, Bowdoin College

Homer’s Wine-Dark Seas
Saturday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m.
Marc Simpson, Independent Scholar

Winslow Homer and the North Sea
Saturday, November 16 at 2:00 p.m.
Elizabeth Athens, University of Connecticut

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