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In addition to extensive magazine illustration work, Homer provided designs for over fifty books from 1855 to 1887. For many of them, such as Gems from Tennyson (1866) and William Cullen Bryant’s The Song of the Sower (1871), Homer was only one of a number of illustrators; in others, however, Homer was the featured artist.
In 1866 Homer made four drawings to illustrate John Esten Cooke’s popular Civil War novel Surry of Eagle’s-Nest. The author served as a Confederate officer, and much of the book drew from his wartime experience. By this time Homer’s paintings of the Civil War had earned him fame as “our best chronicler of the war,” which no doubt encouraged the publisher to choose him to illustrate the text. In 1942 Sterling Clark purchased three of the illustrations that had been removed from a copy of the book.
Homer also contributed seven silhouettes to a specialty edition of James Russell Lowell’s comic poem The Courtin’ (1874). In fact, Homer’s name is featured more prominently than the author’s on the cover. Written in a New England dialect, the poem describes a courtship that takes place in a farmhouse kitchen on a winter evening. The printed illustrations are heliotypes—photomechanical reproductions of Homer’s original, now unlocated, drawings.
|The Clanking Shuttle, 1881|