Casting in the Falls


Winslow Homer ( American, 1836 - 1910 )

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General Description

Winslow Homer was an avid fisherman, and, with his brother Charles, he spent many summers in the Adirondacks. In 1886 the brothers joined what would become the North Woods Club in Minerva, New York, which catered to sport hunters and fishermen. Casting in the Falls was painted during Homer's summer trip to Minerva in 1889 and is one of nearly thirty watercolors dated to that year.

Homer rarely painted his works on-site, relying instead on rapid pencil sketches and an acute visual memory to guide him in his studio. For this watercolor the artist places the viewer at the base of the falls, looking upstream at a fisherman in the midst of his cast. By deliberately rendering the fisherman in broad washes with minimal detail, Homer emphasizes the graceful motion of the cast. As the fisherman leans back, his body acts as a counterbalance to the rushing cascade, boldly painted in blue. The reserved white paper is artfully employed in the highlighted foam of the current. Touches of Homer's signature use of red in the foreground water and the fisherman's belt contribute to the picture's visual unity.

Homer helped found the American Water Color Society in 1865, at a time when the medium was considered the province of women and amateurs. His strong colors and brilliant execution increased the respect accorded the medium, as did his then daring prediction to a friend, "You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors."

Excerpt from

Eleanor Jones Harvey, "Winslow Homer, Casting in the Falls", in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 234.

Fun Facts

  • The fisherman in this painting is most likely Winslow Homer's brother, Charles; both brothers were ardent fishermen

Web Resources

  • Khan Academy
    Watch this video from Khan Academy about another of Winslow Homer's fishing works, The Fog Warning (Halibut Fishing), 1885_._

  • Khan Academy
    Watch this video from Khan Acadmy about a work by Homer that focuses on his depiction of water, Northeaster (1895, reworked by 1901).

  • The American Museum of Fly Fishing
    Learn more about Winslow Homer as an angler and artist from the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

  • Heilbrunn Timeline of Art HIstory
    Read more about the artist from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.