Watching the Shot - a painting by Winslow Homer

Scientific Evidence: Pigment Analysis

Watching the Shot

Pigment Analysis of Watching the Shot by McCrone Associates

McCrone Associates, part of the McCrone Group, was asked to examine the painting and determine, insofar as possible, whether the materials present in this painting are consistent with availability during Homer's lifetime. The examination was conducted by Joseph G. Barabe, Senior Research Microscopist and Director of Scientific Imaging at McCrone Associates.

The McCrone Group, Inc. is internationally recognized as a world leader in microscopy, microanalysis, materials characterization, and the solving of tough materials problems and is regarded as “The Premier Microscopy Resource.” McCrone Associates is focused on solving the most difficult materials research problems along with the day-to-day analysis needs of clinical laboratories, scientific researchers, business organizations, and government agencies worldwide.

The summary conclusion of the report is as follows:

All of the materials identified in this painting are consistent with Homer's lifetime and represent a typical palette of the late nineteenth through early twentieth centuries- Prussian blue was invented in the early eighteenth century, and zinc white was widely available by the early mid-nineteenth century, as was synthetic ultramarine. All other pigments identified In this painting have been available since ancient times. The binding medium was identified as a drying oil. A small amount of other material, possibly an acrylic, was also tentatively identified; this is a modern material that is consistent with the painting undergoing restorative treatment.

The summary report is available for download in PDF format. Click the links below to download.
(readable with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, available here.)

McCrone Associates summary report text and Table 1 (1.3 MB)
Figures 1A, 1C and 1D (2.8 MB)

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