"Song of the Lark"
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One can imagine Winslow Homer walking the Maine shoreline captivated by the sublime power of the natural world and seeking to translate that experience onto his canvases through the bravura of his gestural brushwork. In these paintings, nature's power is both sublime and eternal, and coolly indifferent to the drama of the human condition. The raw style of these later years was not an anomaly, but rather the distinguishing characteristic of Homer's overall career. He regularly approached subjects overlooked by professional artists of his time - rural schoolchildren, hunting scenes, or the lives of recently emancipated African-Americans - with a passion to tell a story. The uncompromising Realism of his style charted a new course for American Art, distinct from the stage-like settings of his European counterparts, while also dispensing with the idealized of the landscape or slick portraits of the upper classes which had previously dominated American painting. Instead, Homer documented the lives of average Americans in a straightforward and seemingly spontaneous style. This look toward the defining qualities of American life and landscape not only captivated Homer, but also the later generations of American artists whom he inspired. The naturalism that marks Homer's long career, would provide a solid foundation for other icons of American painting, including Robert Henri, George Bellows, and later the modernist Marsden Hartley, each of whom made their own pilgrimage to the rocky shorelines of Maine. It was here that Homer and those who followed explored themes of mortality through images of the turbulent and seemingly eternal stretch of the northern Atlantic.