The Old Print Shop

The Life Line.

  • ARTIST: Winslow Homer

  • PUBLISHER: Published by C. Klachner "Copyright 1887, by C. Klachner, 17 East 17th St., New York."

  • MEDIUM: Etching,

    DATE: 1884.

  • EDITION SIZE: Printing size unknown. Plate mark 12 7/8 x 17 3/4" (32.7 x 45 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: Inscribed within image "Copyright 1884 Winslow Homer." Remarque of an anchor between two dials, lower right. Publication line faintly visible lower center of the image. <BR><BR> "During the 1870s, after many disastrous shipwrecks, the public demand for higher safety standards on immigrant steamers was heard. A bolstering of the American Lifesaving Service, with brigade houses along the shore from Maine to Florida, and new lifesaving devices were introduced. One of these was the breeches buoy - a seat that carried people from the ship to shore rapidly. A trained brigade using a small cannon would fire a rope out to a ship in distress, establishing a life line that could carry passengers to safety." -Foster. <BR><BR> Winslow Homer was apprenticed to J. H. Bufford a lithographic publisher in Boston. However, as an artist, he never took to lithography. He worked as an illustrator for "Harper's Weekly" and other publications in the 1860s and 1870s. The first recorded etching by Homer is "Girl Posing in a Chair" which Goodrich dated around 1875. It was a successful etching but a bit crude in its execution. There are likely other images that the artist worked on but did not save, as the leap in quality and control from 1875 to this image in 1884 only happens by working on many plates and perfecting one's etching technique. In total Homer produced nine etchings, seven relating to the sea, one portrait, and his last etching "Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake." <br><br>

  • ADDITIONAL INFO: This is an unrecorded state proof of the print prior to the published state. Proofs of Homer's prints are quite rare, throughout the twentieth-century only a handful of these working proofs have surfaced. <BR><BR> Changes in the print in the final state include the burnishing of the lower 1/4" of the image to remove the etched information, a Klackner copy right line was added in this area in the center that reads "Copy-right 1887 by C. Klackner, 17 East 17th St., New York." also added on the left hand side was a remarque of an anchor between two dials. The Winslow Homer copy right line seen in the lower left of the image was removed when this area was burnished and moved up with the "1884" being made larger and more heavily etched. Other work include additional etching in the water especially lower right, the burnishing or lightening of the face of the woman in the bosom's chair. <BR><BR> This impression is printed with considerable plate tone throughout the image, this is typical of Homer's etchings from the period. A beautiful and strong impression of this great image, it is the first of the major prints completed by Winslow Homer in the 1880's.

  • CONDITION: Good condition save for mild toning of the paper

  • REFERENCE: Goodrich #91-92.