Early Evening

Artist: Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Historical period(s)
Painted in 1881, reworked in 1907
Oil on canvas
H x W: 83.8 x 98.5 cm (33 x 38 3/4 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 10: A Perfect Harmony

Oil painting

evening, United States

To 1908
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, to 1908 [1]

From 1908 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, in February 1908 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See List, American Paintings Other than by Whistler, A, pg. 4, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

M. Knoedler & Co. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Winslow Homer (1836 –1910) began this painting in 1881 in Cullercoats, a fishing village on the northeast coast of England. It was unfinished when he returned to the United States in 1883, and Homer continued to work on it in his Atlantic coast studio in Prout’s Neck,Maine. His two-year sojourn in England wrought important changes to his art. Under the dual influences of the British landscape tradition and the rugged environment of Northumbria, Homer transformed his art to express a profound respect for the enduring forces of nature. Forming a monumental, self-contained unit, the two women of "Early Evening" seem oblivious to the approaching sea captain or the buffeting coastal winds.

An earlier version of Early Evening was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 under the title "Sailors Take Warning (Sunset)," where it was described as a “large canvas representing three girls on a rocky shore.” Years later, in 1907, Homer cut down the canvas and altered the original composition. Scientific research done with autoradiography in 1992 revealed that Homer painted out the third female figure and incorporated part of her skirt into the dress hem of the right-hand figure. He also altered aspects of the landscape to more closely match the New England coast, and he changed the time of day from sunset to twilight. In describing the evolution of the composition to his brother, Homer wrote, “I have made a new thing representing early evening—it is now a very fine picture.” A year later Charles Lang Freer found the figures “so beautifully done” that he decided to add "Early Evening" to his collection, where, he explained, “it is unfolding new beauties daily. I am glad to possess it.”

Published References
  • Arthur Hoeber. Winslow Homer, A Painter of the Sea. London, February 1911. .
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Winslow Homer. Exh. cat. New York, February 6 - March 19, 1911. cats. 5, 8-9.
  • Second Exhibition: Oil Paintings by Contemporary American Artists. Exh. cat. Washington, December 8, 1908 - January 17, 1909. cat. 1.
  • Toledo Museum of Art. Catalogue of the Inaugural Exhibition. Exh. cat. New York, January 17 - February 12, 1912. cat. 43, p. 17.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 26-27.
  • Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Catalogue of the Fourth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists. Exh. cat. Buffalo, May 10 - August 30, 1909. p. 39.
  • Winslow Homer. vol. 7, no. 3 Detroit, July 1913. pp. 48-50, 53.
  • Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Sunderland. Winslow Homer: All the Cullercoats Pictures. Sunderland, England. pp. 68, 70.
  • Lloyd Goodrich, John Wesley Beatty. Winslow Homer. New York. pp. 80, 189.
  • Abigail Booth Gerdts, Lloyd Goodrich. Winslow Homer in Monochrome. Exh. cat. New York, December 12, 1986 - January 10, 1987. pp. 82-86.
  • Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine. Exh. cat. p. 104.
  • Michelle Mead. Giving up His Ghost: The Finding of Winslow Homer's "Sailors Take Warning (Sunset)". vol. 7, no. 2 New York, Spring 1993. pp. 104-107.
  • Tony Harrison. Winslow Homer in England., rev. 1996 Station Press UK ed.: "Winslow Homer in Cullercoats". Ocean Park, ME. p. 115, pl. E120-121.
  • Philip C. Beam. Winslow Homer in the 1890s: Prout's Neck Observed. Exh. cat. New York, August 18, 1990 - September 2, 1991. p. 125.
  • Leila Mechlin. Winslow Homer. vol. 29 New York, June 1908. p. 129, opp. 126.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 139, fig. 43.1.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 194, fig. 131.
  • Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Fourth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists: Academy Notes. Buffalo, May 1909. p. 203.
  • William Howe Downes. The Life and Works of Winslow Homer. Boston and New York. pp. 229-31,243, 258.
  • Philip C. Beam. Winslow Homer at Prout's Neck., 1st ed. Boston. pp. 243-44.
  • Gordon Hendricks. The Life and Work of Winslow Homer. New York. pp. 247, 264-5, 281.
  • Revisiting the White City: American Art at the 1893 World's Fair. Exh. cat. Washington, April 16 - August 15, 1993. p. 264.
  • Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. p. 362.
  • William R. Cross. Winslow Homer: American Passage. New York, New York, April 12, 2022. p. 426, fig. 261.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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