The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum (RAM) debuted its highly-anticipated exhibit, Winslow Homer and the American Pictorial Press in America, on Thursday (Nov. 7) evening.
More than 100 art-lovers gathered in the museum's Gallery One for the opening reception.
The exhibit celebrates the early work of one of America's most iconic artists, Winslow Homer. Homer began his career as a commercial illustrator, and became well-known for his depictions of life on the battle lines in the American Civil War, as well as for his illustrations of the war's impact on the home front. Homer worked as an illustrator from 1857-1875, during which time he produced more than 200 images for publications such as Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and Harper's Weekly.
"We thought this would be an interesting exhibit because it shows the evolution of a truly great American artist," said Lee Ortega, FSRAM executive director. "Homer was a very prolific artist. In his later career, he devoted himself to painting. This collection is unique in that it showcases his early work where he truly established his talent."
Upon arrival, guests were greeted by Ortega, as well as RAM board members and volunteers. The reception, sponsored by Arkansas Best Corp., featured hors d'oeuvres, dessert and wine.
Comprised of "engraved images produced for the American pictorial press," the collection includes drawings by Homer and several of his contemporaries, including Theodore Davis, Thomas Nast, and Alfred Waud.
Approximately 50 prints in the collection were selected from the original newspaper editions. In the exhibit, RAM reminds visitors that while images were drawn by Homer and his fellow illustrators, they were not engraved or printed by them.
"The pictorial press enlisted an army of artists, engravers, plate-makers and printers to publish these works," notes RAM. "While it is the draftsmen we focus on, the unnamed craftsmen who engraved and printed these images deserve recognition for bringing these mass produced publications into the homes of the 19thcentury families."
In addition to the illustrations, the collection focuses on the technology of the artist's day and describes the processes that were used to produce such works. Visitors can learn about tools such as the electrotype, a plate that revolutionized the printing industry and played a key role in the mass production of newspapers in the 1800s.
Winslow Homer and the American Pictorial Press in America will remain on display in the RAM gallery through Jan. 5. Admission to the museum is free. For more information, call 784-2787.