The Winslow Homer's exhibit of sea life

May 15, 2013 7:56:49 AM PDT
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the scene of some stormy nights and rocky waters these days.

It's a new exhibit called Shipwreck! Winslow Homer and the Life Line?.and it's a collection of paintings exploring themes of sea life, disaster and rescue.

Kathleen Foster, Curator, American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art said, "Winslow Homer grew up by the sea. He made a reputation doing pictures of American everyday life.

Homer's Life Line is the centerpiece of the exhibit. It was his first painting about human trials with the sea.

"It's a fantastic story of rescue with a burly and mysterious coast guard guy rescuing a beautiful girl from a shipwreck. It's an adventure tale that has been thrilling from 1884 when it was painted to today," added Foster.

The Life Line's depiction of a disheveled woman embraced in rescue by her male counterpart sparked controversy in its time.

"This is a painting from 1884 when I would have to say the public morals were pretty buttoned up. He makes the subject very exciting to his public by showing her soaked so that the drapery clings to her body. They got very excited by that little flash of skin at the knee," said Foster.

While the image was considered racy, The Life Line's portrayal of what was then new technology was revolutionary.

Foster added, "The rope that is from side to side is going from a ship in distress to the beach and you can see which way the group is moving by the droplets of water on the rope."

Homer is the star of the show, but the exhibit also features works by other significant shipwreck painters, including Edward Moran and Thomas Birch.

"It's only being shown in Philadelphia so this is a single chance," said Foster.

Shipwreck! runs through December 16th. For tickets, visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art.