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The Country School

Winslow Homer, American, 1836–1910
Oil on canvas
Made in
New York, New York, United States, North and Central America
Current Location
On View, Gallery 335
21 1/4 x 38 1/4 in. (54 x 97.2 cm)
framed: 29 7/8 x 46 3/4 x 2 5/8 in. (75.9 x 118.7 x 6.7 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
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Object Number
The themes that most interested Winslow Homer throughout the 1870s - rural life, childhood, and the disappearing one-room schoolhouse - are depicted here. Homer had visited this rural New England schoolroom the year before he painted it. The picture is filled with an array of details-students in various states of attentiveness, fresh flowers on the teacher's desk and wilted ones on the floorboards, lunch pails in the far corner, the teacher's hat hanging from a nail above the chalkboard, and the warm glow of sunlight shining through the windows. Within the carefully organized composition, the teacher commands the room from her desk. Students of all ages line the room in a horizontal band, with girls on one side of the room and boys on the other, except for the crying boy sitting alongside the girls.
by 1872 - 1879
John H. Sherwood, New York, NY, USA [1]

1879/12/17 -
Alfred Rutgers Whitney, New York; Morristown, NJ, purchased at auction of the Sherwood Collection, George Leavitt & Co., Chickering Hall, New York, December 17-18, 1879, lot. 40 [2]

Mrs. Fosburgh, acquired from Alfred Rutgers Whitney

by 1936 - still in 1944
James W. Fosburgh, Pieter W. Fosburgh, and Hugh W. Fosburgh, New York, acquired from Mrs. Fosburgh [3]

- 1946
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY

1946 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. [4]

The main source for this provenance is the 2005 Winslow Homer catalogue raisonné [Goodrich, Lloyd. "Record of Works by Winslow Homer." New York: Spanierman Gallery, 205, cat. 388]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] The exhibition records of the National Academy of Design list this painting as having been exhibited there in 1872, cat. 160, lent by John H. Sherwood [Naylor, Maria, ed. "The National Academy of Design Exhibition Record 1861-1900." New York: Kennedy Galleries, 1973, p. 452]. According to the catalogue raisonné, this painting may have even been a commission from the artist, as Sherwood was known to have commissioned works from Homer, although there is no record of which specific works were commissioned.

This painting was included in an auction of the Sherwood Collection in April 1873, along with at least two other paintings by Homer, but "The Country School" did not sell ["Mr. John H. Sherwood’s Collection of Fine Modern Oil Paintings.” NY: George A. Leavitt & Co., April 29-30, 1873, lot 76]. Sherwood later lent this work to the 1878 "Exposition Universelle de 1878" in Paris [Downes, William Howe. "The Life and Works of Winslow Homer." Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1911, p.72, 91]. The painting was again offered (under the title "A Country Schoolroom in the Catskills") in the December 1879 sale of the Sherwood collection [“The Collections of Mr. John H. Sherwood and Mr. Benj. Hart.” NY: George A. Leavitt & Co., December 17-18, 1879, lot. 40; Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. and Franklin Kelly. "Winslow Homer." Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1995, p. 89].

[2] See note [1]. According to the catalogue raisonné, "Alfred Whitney surely acquired 'The Country School' from Sherwood's 1879 auction," and later gave the painting to his daughter, Mrs. Fosburgh [Goodrich, p. 154].

[3] A Carnegie Institute exhibition label on the reverse of the painting lists Mr. James W. Fosburgh as the owner, also giving his New York City address. This exhibition, titled "Centenary Exhibition of Works of Winslow Homer" began January 28, 1937 [“Centenary Exhibition of Works of Winslow Homer.” Pittsburg: Carnegie Institute, January 28-March 7, 1937, cat. 47]. A 1939 exhibition catalogue also indicates that this painting was lent by James W. Fosburgh ["Life in America." New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1939, cat. 238].

In 1944, however, this painting was recorded as lent to an exhibition by James W., Pieter W., and Hugh W. Fosburgh ["Winslow Homer." Worcester Art Museum, November 16 - December 17, 1944, cat. 7]. James W., Pieter W., and Hugh W. Fosburgh are the grandsons of Alfred Rutgers Whitney. Despite the fact that this 1944 catalogue, and the Bill of Sale from M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. list all three grandsons as owners of the painting, only James W. Fosburgh is included in the catalogue raisonné (as having received the painting from his mother, Mrs. Fosburgh, who received it from her father, Alfred Rutgers Whitney) [Bill of Sale from M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. dated May 6, 1946, SLAM document files; Goodrich, p. 154].

[4] Bill of Sale from M. Knoedler & Co., Inc. (see note [3]). Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, April 4, 1946.
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