Song of the Lark, 1876
Oil on canvas
During the decades following the Civil War, Winslow Homer forged his reputation as America's foremost painter of everyday life. Homer's realist depictions of laboring farmers, rugged wilderness guides, and storm-tossed New England fishermen stressed the powerful relationship between man and nature. By the time of this painting, American farmers had largely replaced the scythe with Cyrus McCormick's more efficient mechanical reaper. By depicting his farmer with a scythe, Homer nostalgically alludes to an earlier, simpler era in American farm life.