There are plenty of opportunities to see Winslow Homer paintings in person this summer. But if you prefer looking at art on the computer, there’s plenty of Homer to view online as well.

On Saturday, the Portland Museum of Art will debut a Web site of highlights from its vast collection of Homer illustrations. The online gallery, at, will provide access to more than 250 Homer wood engravings. The images include a feature that allows viewers to zoom in to see details hidden by the artist, said PMA education director Dana Baldwin.

At the same time, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick is in the process of scanning its vast collection of Homer memorabilia, including numerous family photos. Those that have been scanned and processed are available under the Winslow Homer Collection link on the museum’s home page at

While interesting for casual viewers, the Homer page on the Bowdoin site should prove particularly helpful for scholars, said Laura Latman, Bowdoin’s registrar.

“I have been dealing with visitors for many years now, and it is wonderful to be able to make things available right at their desks,” Latman said. “This will allow people who can’t get here to really have access.”

The Bowdoin museum acquired a trove of Homer memorabilia in 1964. It consists of hundreds of items, including letters and photos. So far, the museum has posted images of almost 300 items.

Michelle Henning, Latman’s assistant, has done much of the work with the Bowdoin collection, giving her unique access to Homer and his life. She’s learned a lot about Homer by reading his letters and looking at his family photographs.

“Winslow Homer had a reputation for being a bit of a grouch, but really, that was only when he was trying to focus on his work. He had a wonderfully dry sense of humor, and cared deeply for his family,” Henning said.

That family support went both ways. When Homer was established as a talented etching artist, he realized he wanted to paint. He was unsure of himself, and when given an early show of his paintings, he told his family that if he sold his work, he would pursue painting. If not, he would take that as a message that he wasn’t meant to be a painter.

The letters reveal that his brother Charlie anonymously bought the paintings. “Later on, when Winslow discovered who his first great collector was, Winslow scolded, and then thanked Charlie,” Henning said. “It was clear that Winslow was very moved by his brother’s support for his wish to paint.”

In Portland, the PMA acquired almost 450 Homer woodcut engravings in 1991, thanks to a gift from Peggy and Harold Osher. The engravings are mostly from Homer’s days as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly and other publications.

“We are able to exhibit only a handful of the works at any given time,” Baldwin said. “So here are these great treasures that are most often in storage and off view. Now people can see them whenever they want.”

Each illustration will be presented online using a feature that allows viewers to zoom in on details. In 20 works, the museum has embedded pop-up hot spots, providing viewers with information to enhance their viewing. In addition, 10 other works were photographed with their related magazine page, allowing viewers to read articles accompanying the illustrations, Baldwin said.


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