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Current Exhibitions

Winslow Homer From Poetry to Fiction – The Engraved Works

July 2, 2021 – October 16, 2021


The Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, DE, will be hosting a major exhibition of 220 engravings by nineteenth century American artist Winslow Homer. The exhibition is scheduled for July 2 through October 16, 2021. Homer is overwhelmingly touted as the most beloved painter and illustrator in American history.

Winslow Homer was born in Boston on February 24, 1836. He was the second of three sons of Charles Savage Homer and Henrietta Benson Homer, both from long lines of New Englanders. His mother, an amateur watercolorist, was influential in teaching her son to use a paint brush and encouraged his interest in art. She and her son had a close relationship throughout their lives.

While still in his teen years, Homer’s father recognized his son’s interest in becoming an artist and enrolled him in a two-year apprenticeship program at John Bufford’s lithography workshop in Boston. The intense work and burdensome load for Homer to produce each day caused the aspiring young artist to say that he would never again work in an environment where he could not be independent and free to decide his own choices in art and life. Nevertheless, he learned his trade well and developed some lasting friendships with fellow artists, alumni, and patrons, including painters Frederick Rondel and Joseph E. Baker. American painter Eastman Johnson had also served as an apprentice with Buford a decade earlier. It was Johnson, one of the founders of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, that nominated Homer to the level of member in the National Academy.

Homer quickly developed the ability to capture the public’s interest in the engraved works that he produced for the pictorial press. The subscribership for Harper’s Weekly and Ballou’s Pictorial increased to over 600,000 weekly readers. His art reached an estimated three million people by 1870. When he stopped making engravings in 1874 to paint full time, he was already famous and exhibiting his work on a regular basis both nationally and internationally.

The exhibition is accompanied by historic photographs, as well as mementos of the Civil War, including an original letter written by a young Confederate soldier from the trenches; an encased cameo with a tintype image of a loved one that a soldier could carry into battle as he faced the ultimate sacrifice that he could make for his country; and song sheets for The Drummer Boy of Shiloh, that became popular among those living in northern states. Didactic wall text and photo panels expand the knowledge of Homer’s art with social meaning in the 1860s.

Winslow Homer from Poetry to Fiction is grouped into two major categories: works that Homer produced prior to the Civil War, and those that followed. However there is a sharp difference in how these works are interpreted and presented. Works that were made for commercial use or for storytelling purposes such as novelettes or short stories are in one category, separated from what most historians consider the more serious works that relate Homer’s paintings are in another. The latter group of works include such iconic works as The Sharpshooter, The Morning Bell, Snap the Whip, The Summit of Mount Washington, The Veteran in a New Field, The Dinner Horn, On the Bluff at Long Branch, and many others.

Inventing Illustration: Illuminating Vintage Children’s Literature & Other Stories

July 2, 2021 – October 16, 2021


Wilmington-based artist Frank E. Schoonover (1877-1972) created thousands of book illustrations throughout his career, including the cover art for such well-known stories as Swiss Family Robinson (1921), Gulliver’s Travels (1921) and Treasure Island (1921). This exhibition traces Schoonover’s design steps, beginning with preparatory photographs, drawings and sketches for illustrations and ending with paintings and book covers that he created for best-selling children’s literature. Inventing Illustration – generously loaned to the Biggs Museum by the late Dr. Edward Burka – is the perfect accompaniment to Winslow Homer From Poetry to Fiction—The Engraved Works.

Inventing Illustration is made possible through support from the Donald and Martha DeWees Foundation and the Edgar A. Thronson Foundation.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray

November 5, 2021 –  February 12, 2022

In May 1931 the imminent photographer Nickolas Muray traveled to Mexico on vacation where he met Frida Kahlo, a woman he would never forget. The two started a romance that continued on and off for the next ten years and a friendship that lasted until her death in 1954. Approximately forty photographic portraits taken by Muray of Kahlo comprise the exhibition. The photographs, dating from 1937 to 1946, explore Muray’s unique perspective; as Kahlo’s friend, lover and confidant. Muray’s photographs bring to light Kahlo’s deep interest in her Mexican heritage, her life and the people with whom she shared a close friendship.

Unmasking Culture: An Examination of the Ritual Masks of Mexico

November 5, 2021 –  February 13, 2022


Unmasking Culture will accompany Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray to celebrate and enhance the understanding of the cultural heritage of Mexico for which Kahlo has become a global icon. This exhibition presents antique masks and figures used by Mexican indigenous people in their centuries-old religious dances and ceremonies. Items in this collection are on loan from The Althouse Collection, which was established by the late Thomas and Charlotte Althouse during their travels and residence in Mexico in the 1950s and 1970s. The private collection was later passed on to their son, artist Stephen Althouse.

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