Found: Winslow Homer’s Study for Fresh Air

Fans of Winslow Homer, rejoice! On June 12, Swann Galleries will auction a pen and ink drawing by the celebrated American illustrator and artist–a study for his seminal, same-titled watercolor Fresh Air. The painting is part of the American Art collection at the Brooklyn Museum.

This drawing, listed in the Homer catalogue raisonne as “whereabouts unknown,” was recently discovered and had descended through the family of the artist James D. Smillie. It is an en plein air representation of a fancifully dressed shepherdess at Houghton Farm, the upstate New York property of one of Homer’s patrons.


Winslow Homer, Fresh Air, watercolor, 1878. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

In researching the piece, we found that it was drawn by Homer to be illustrated in the catalogue of the American Water Color Society Twelfth Annual Exhibition (held in New York in February 1879), which included thumbnail images referencing–not reproducing–watercolors in the exhibition. James D. Smillie was a member of the three-man “Catalogue Committee” for the exhibition.

More details on this fascinating discovery can be found in a recent article in The Art Newspaper–see below.



Our Prints & Drawings department offers upwards of five auctions annually. Contact Todd Weyman for more information about consigning quality materials.