Watching the Shot - a painting by Winslow Homer

Scene & Title Reunited: Homer's Use of Title and Subject

Watching the Shot

Homer's Use of Title and Subject

Once the title Watching the Shot is joined with the battle scene image a moment of keen recognition occurs that they do in fact fit together. This is not the first time such a coalescence of a Homer title and image, have had such an effect. Marc Simpson relates the story of the Homer lost title, Near Andersonville 1865-1866, which was remarried to it’s work of art also thanks to the April 19, 1866, New York Evening Post article. The painting is of a young black woman standing outside her cabin watching Union prisoners escorted by their confederate captors.

Fig: 2-3: Near Andersonville
Winslow Homer, 1865–1866

Who she is depends to a great degree on where she is. And for that, the painting’s history and title are crucial. Unfortunately, the recorded history of this work is scant. The known provenance of the painting rests entirely within the family of Mrs. Elijah Kellogg (see Martha Banks Crane) until 1966, when her descendants donated the painting to the Newark Museum.  … When the painting came to light in 1962, a dealer gave it the title ‘Captured Liberators’, making literal the poignancy of the scene. Lloyd Goodrich, noting that such a literacy conceit was unlike Homer, suggested ‘At the Cabin Door’ as an appropriate, albeit synthetic, title for the work, and it has been known by that since. On 19 April 1866, however, Homer sold six paintings at an auction held by the firm of Miner & Somerville. Among these, all apparently of Civil War scenes, was a painting entitled ‘Near Andersonville’ (no.92). … ’Near Andersonville’ is clearly the Newark painting. The significance of image and title together was profound (2.4) (Fig. 2-3).

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