Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts (High Tide), 1870. Winslow Homer. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. William F. Milton, 1923.
Following his experience as an illustrator during the Civil War, Homer turned his attention to lighter scenes of contemporary life, often focusing on fashionable young women. This painting of three bathers on a Massachusetts beach was his most daring subject to date. Critics were less disturbed by its disquieting mood than by the fact that, as one observed, the figures were “exceedingly red-legged and ungainly.” As in much of Homer’s art, an air of mystery and melancholy imbues the scene, suggesting deeper meanings below the surface.