On a Lee Shore
On a Lee Shore, 1900
Oil on canvas
99.1 x 99.1 cm (39 x 39 inches)
Jesse Metcalf Fund 01.003
Homer’s view of the crashing Atlantic surf and a sailing ship driven towards the rocky coast acknowledges the dark reality of the ocean’s dominating presence. He uses a somber palette, broad brushstrokes, and a dramatically contained square format to convey man’s vulnerability in the face of nature. This aggressive style marks a shift away from inhabited landscapes to wilder, unpopulated scenes near his home at Prout’s Neck, Maine. The Museum acquired the painting within a year of its creation. Homer himself described On a Lee Shore as “a very excellent painting,” an enduring description of the first work of art to be purchased with a fund honoring Jesse Metcalf, one of RISD’s founders.