Winslow Homer, The Obtuse Bard


  1. Eliot Clark, N.A., History of the National Academy of Design 1825-1953, Columbia University Press, New York, 1954, p. 43 ff.
  2. That section of Main Street is now part of Mass. Ave. It was on the opposite side of Main Street across from where Judge Dana's mansion had been, which had burned down in 1839. Dana Street was the dividing line between "The Village" and "Cambridgeport" sections of Cambridge.
  3. Downes, p. 24.
  4. Richardson, p. 134.
  5. The population of Cambridge in 1810 was 2323, 1840 was 8409, and 1850 was 15,215. figures from Arthur Gilman, The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-Six, Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1896, p. 32.
  6. . Morse was President of the National Academy of Design from 1826 to 1845 and again in 1861 to 1862.
  7. William M. Flowler, Jr., William Ellery, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, New Jersey, 1973, p. 178.
  8. Hunter, p. 22.
  9. Dana, p. 174.
  10. Gerdts and Stebbins, p. 164.
  11. The only route would have been down Main St. past the Homer house. Dana Jr., Journal, p. 175.
  12. Elizabeth Peabody was an assistant to Allston's brother-in-law William Ellery Channing. Her sister married Nathaniel Hawthorne. She published a magazine in 1847 called Aesthetic Papers, published her recollections of Allston and other articles reprinted in her 1886 book Last Evening with Allston. She also introduced the Froebel kindergarten methods to America (which are known to have influenced Frank Lloyd Wright).
  13. William Gerdts & Theodore Stebbins, p. 169.
  14. It is also interesting to note that Homer's great-grandmother was Abiah Flagg. Winslow would have known of his relationship to the Flagg family for one of his father's brother's was William Flagg Homer. Geneological research that I have done shows some Abiah Flagg's related to Allston's step-father, but I have yet to confirm the specific relationship. Therefore Winslow may have been related to the Flagg's of New Haven, who were decended from Allston's half-brother, including Jared B. Flagg who wrote the 1892 Life and Letters of Washington Allston. Charles Noel Flagg of New Haven is listed in Arthur Patch Homer's address book. (Bowdoin Collection, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution). In any event, this would not suggest that Homer was related to Allston, only to his stepfather and the other Flaggs.
  15. The two major sources were: Biography of Arthur Bartlett Homer in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography which provides the link back from Winslow's grandparents Eleazer Homer/Mary Bartlett back to Jacob Homer/Abiah Flagg. On the Flagg side there is a book on the Flagg family in the LDS Los Angeles Geneological Library. Also interesting to note from microfishe, a marriage at Boston of a Jacob Homer to a Tabitha Dana (23 April 1801). Who they were and whether they have any significance, I have not determined.

  16. Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer, Abrams, New York, 1979, p. 12 ff.
  17. ibid.
  18. Arthru Gilman, editor, The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-Six, Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1896, page 234.
  19. The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-six, Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1896, p. 238.
  20. The Dana family went out with the pastor also. This was "...a church they build on the northwest corner of Mt. Auburn Street [and Holyoke], just below the site of the first schoolhouse. The land was a gift of a member of the Dana family, an heiress of one of Cambridge's large land owners, Judge Edmund Trowbridge..." from John Harris, The Boston Globe Historic Walks in Cambridge, Globe Pequot Press, Chester, CT, 1986, p. 125.
  21. Moses F. Sweetser, Allston, Boston, Houghton Osgood, 1879, p. 133 ff.
  22. J. Shawcross, editor, S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, Oxford University Press, London, 1958, Volume I, p. lxxxii.
  23. quoted in William Dunlap, History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States (originally published 1834), Benjamin Blom, New York, 1965, Volume II, p. 296 ff.
  24. ibid, p. 297.
  25. I have added the underlining.
  26. ibid, p. 303 ff.
  27. Again, I have added the underlining to the text.
  28. Washington Allston, Lectures on Art and Poems, Baker and Scribner, New York, 1850, reprinted by Scholars' Facsimilies & Reprints with an introduction by Nathalia Wright, 1967, p. vi.
  29. George W. Peck, "Allston's Lectures on Art," Bulletin of the American Art Union, June, 1850, p. 39.
  30. There is much, much more in Allston than even begins to be represented here. The background relationships to Berkeley and Johnson are provided so the reader can more completely see the common roots of Allston's perspective and that of Pragmatism which followed with Charles Sanders Pierce and William James.
  31. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria Volume I, p. 202.
  32. The ideas of both Berkeley and Kant, whose works Coleridge had studied, are reflected in these distinctions. Coleridge had studied Kant in Germany and named his second child "Berkeley." It is not within the scope of my objectives here to show how the ideas of Coleridge and Allston may be viewed as a synthesis of Kant, Berkeley, and platonists including Plotinus, Henry More, Norris, and Fenelon).
  33. This process was discussed in the previous paper.
  34. See Berkeley's Siris for a complete history of the concept.
  35. see Chapter 8 "Ideas and Archetypes" in Joseph J. Ellis, The New England Mind in Transition, Yale University Press, 1973, Chapter 8, p. 145 ff.
  36. Samuel Hopkins was pastor of the First Church (Congregational) in Newport, Rhode Island from 1770 to 1803.
  37. Samuel Johnson anticipates George Herbert Mead in this, see Noetica in Elementia Philosophia, Chapter II, section 25, where Johnson writes of signs, "agreed upon."
  38. "Intellectual light" may be seen as an underlying assumption in America thought, and a requisite for democracy. This is not to suggest that Americans held any monopoly on the concept. See Berkeley's Siris for a complete review of "Intellectual Light," ibid, p. 88 ff, (paragraph 171 ff). Berkeley puts to rest the issue of first cause in Siris,
  39. When therefore force, power, virtue, or action are mentioned as subsisting in an extended and corporeal or mechanical being, this is not to be taken in a true, genuine and real, but only in a gross and popular sense, which sticks in appearances, and doth not analyse things to their first principles. In compliance with established language and the use of the world, we must employ the popular current phrase. But then in regard to truth we ought to distinguish its meaning. It may suffice to have made this declaration once for all, in order to avoid mistakes. (George Berkeley, "Siris," The Works of George Berkeley Bishop of Cloyne," Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, 1948, Volume 5, p. 83, paragraph 155.)

    Thus, when Samuel Johnson reads like George Herbert Mead (when he speaks of "signs agreed upon" in Elementia Philosophica, Noetica, Chapter II, paragraph 25, p. 42 ff.), that does not undermine his larger perspective.

  40. The computer chip was just as possible 100 million years ago as today. It could have been made by some other advanced civilization somewhere in the Universe. The brain, which each of us uses to varying degrees, is still more advanced than any computer chip, and our never ending human desire for knowledge will eventually allow us to replicate its biochemical processes. The physical universe also contained the possibility of a human brain 100 million years ago. There is little difference between the process of the development of the human brain and the development of the computer chip, except that the chip is the product of secondary imagination. The "creations" of man are produced through conscious reflection, which is how some believe the Universe came to be, by God doing the same sort of thing, using what for us is "secondary imagination." Thus, the secondary imagination is the greatest process we possess, for it is one of sublime imitation.
  41. . Elizabeth P. Peabody, Last Evening with Allston, D. Lothrop, Boston, 1886, p. 4.
  42. The ideas of man are but imperfect copies of the ideas of God, in the same way that scientific theories, a subset of human ideas, are always subject to refinement. The theories, attempting to copy the "true" laws of nature, are but useful approximations, striving towards perfection. Thus, my statement that our ideas are built upon the ideas of man, not the ideas of God. See also Samuel Johnson's letter to George Berkeley at Newport, September 10, 1729, in which he wrote,
  43. "Now I understand you, that there is a two-fold existence of things or ideas, one in the divine mind, and the other in created minds; the one archetypal, and the other ectypal; that, therefore, the real original and permanent existence of things is archetypal, being ideas in mente Divinâ, and that our ideas are copies of them..." (Career of Johnson, Vol II, p. 266.)

  44. Coleridge had read Berkeley, in fact, he named his second child Berkeley. These ideas may be explicitely stated in Berkeley or some ancient writer, but that does not matter as the point is sufficiently evidenced by what Johnson wrote.
  45. from Logic published in 1720, Samuel Johnson, His Career and Writings, edited by Herbert and Carol Schneider, Columbia University Press, New York, 1929, Vol II, page 227.
  46. It would not surprise me if quite similiar statements are in Berkeley's writing, or if the ancients had said the same thing, for that is the point: such descriptions are merely descriptions of the reality which surrounds us.
  47. Samuel Johnson, Elementa Philosophica: Noetica, Samuel Johnson, p. 9 ff.
  48. The use of the terms "primary" and "secondary" may have been new, but the essence of the distinction was preceded in Johnson. Underlying this point is another theme, which is contained in the task of assigning patents to "original" ideas. Whenever there is a significant invention, there is always a basis for some claim that the "invention" "belonged" to someone earlier, for in a true sense, ideas are never entirely original, but are "reflections," "echos" of what already was. That this was so before Johnson, Coleridge, and Allston is as true as the fact that there was gravity before Newton. Even Morse had to fight his claim to the telegraph in the courts.
  49. People deserve to be rewarded for their intellectual property. Patent and copyright laws exist to protect such rights, but notice that those laws place limits on the perpetuity of those rights, precisely because of the public benefit. Thus, while one might question the repackaging of the ideas of someone long since dead without giving due credit, society benefits from the subsequent use without that excess baggage. We are then sometimes surprised to find ideas, thought to be of the current age, which are in fact products of times past.


  50. Allston, p. 4.
  51. (Allston refers to New Testament, I Corinthians 2:14) Allston, p. 6.
  52. ibid.
  53. John LaFarge, S.J., An American Amen, Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, New York, 1958, p. 171 ff.
  54. Allston, p. 18.
  55. Samuel Johnson, Noetica, Elementa Philosophica, B. Franklin & D. Hall, Philadelphia, 1752, p. 47, Chapter II, Section 27.
  56. Allston, p. 8.
  57. Hawthorne was familiar with Allston. He visited the Allston exhibit in 1839. (see H. W. L. Dana's "Allston in Cambridgeport" p. 42, note 36). Also, note that Elizabeth Peabody became Hawthorne's sister-in-law when Hawthorne married Sophia Peabody July 9, 1842.
  58. Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Artist and the Beautiful," The Portable Hawthorne, Viking Press, New York, 1948, p. 221 ff.
  59. Allston, ibid., p. 80.
  60. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria. Volumn I, Chapter IV, p. 64.
  61. Washington Allston quoted in William Dunlap, ibid, volume II, p. 309.
  62. Allston, p. 60.
  63. Allston, p. 61.
  64. The advertising industry of America has been referred to as "Madison Avenue," since this was the location of the firms in New York City which pioneered modern advertising. The people of "Madison Avenue" share Allston's knowledge. Perhaps the associationist ideas of Archibald Alison should be mentioned, for they also seem quite relevant in this context. Alison's ideas were known to Dana Sr. (see Doreen Hunter's Richard Henry Dana, Sr.) and his friend William Cullen Bryant (see Charles H. Brown's William Cullen Bryant, Scribner's, New York, 1971, p. 144 ff.).
  65. Allston, p. 115.
  66. Allston, p. 83.
  67. Elizabeth P. Peabody, Last Evening with Allston, D. Lothrop, Boston, 1886, p. 4 ff.
  68. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968, Volume I, p. 174.
  69. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, Jr., "Allston at Harvard 1796-1800," Cambridge Historical Society, Publications, Volume 29, Proceedings for the Year 1943, p. 28.
  70. William H. Gerdts & Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., "A Man of Genius" The Art of Washington Allston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1979, p. 28.
  71. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968, Volume I, p. 173-174.
  72. Benjamin Welles, "Remarker," Monthly Anthology, June 1806, pages 285-288.
  73. Jonathan Edwards, Images or Shadows of Divine Things, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1948, page 122.
  74. Ralph Waldo Emerson attended the lecture as a student and wrote of its effect on him. Noted [with citation to The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. William H. Gilman et al., 16 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960-82), 2:238] in David Robinson (Editor), William Ellery Channing: Selected Writings, Paulist Press, New York, 1985, p. 122.
  75. Channing, "Evidences of Revealed Religion" in Selected Writings p. 127.
  76. Channing, ibid. p. 130 ff.
  77. William Ellery Channing, "The True End of Life," The Complete Works of William Ellery Channing, D.D., Christian Life, London, 1884, p. 33.
  78. Richard Henry Dana, Sr., Poems and Prose Writings, Literature House, Gregg Press, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1970 (reprint), Volume I, p. 436 ff.
  79. ibid, 440 ff.
  80. Richard Henry Dana, Sr., "The Past and the Present," ibid, volume II, p. 19 ff.
  81. Richard Henry Dana, Sr., Poems and Prose Writings, Baker and Scribner, 1850, p. 22 ff.
  82. This is the house that stood "...near the corner of what would be today Pearl Street and Allston Street." Allston lived there from his marriage to Martha until H. W. L. Dana, "Allston in Cambridgeport", in Cambridge Historical Society Publications: Proceedings for the Year 1943, Volume 29, [published in] 1948, p. 35, note 5.
  83. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968, Volume ?, p. 500.
  84. Edward Tyrell Channing (1790-1856) was Dana Sr.'s cousin, brother of William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), and also therefore another Allston's brother-in-law. After Dr. Channing died his lectures were published under the title Lectures Read to the Seniors in Harvard College. Dana Jr. wrote the biography of Dr. Channing printed in the book.
  85. Charles Francis Adams, Richard Henry Dana: A Biography in Two Volumes, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, 1890, Volume I, p. 22.
  86. The ode was Wordsworth's "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality." Richard Henry Dana, Jr., The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968, Volume I, p. 36.
  87. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968, p. 523 ff.
  88. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1968, Volume ?, p. 835 ff.
  89. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, "The Dana Saga," in Cambridge Historical Society Publications, Volume 26: Proceedings for the Year 1940, Cambridge, Mass., 1941, p. 108 ff.
  90. Matthiessen, The James Family, p. 541.
  91. Agassiz, in One Hundred Years Ago, p. 202 ff.
  92. Lowell, Complete Poems, p. 442.
  93. Washington Allston, Lectures on Art, ibid, page 46.
  94. Dr. Clarke was a medical doctor, having been Professor of Materia Medica in the medical school of Harvard University from 1855 until he resigned in 1872 because of his own illness. His friend Oliver Wendall Holmes, M.D. (son of Dr. Abiel Holmes discussed earlier) wrote, "It was left by Dr. Clarke to my decision what disposition should be made of the manuscript. I had heard many portions of it, and discussed many points involved in it with him." Dr. Holmes had the book published and wrote the introduction. The book is provides not only evidence that an interest in Visions, including illusions, still existed in Cambridge, but provided a physiological analysis of all aspects of the various forms of the phonemna of false sight (pseudopia).
  95. Edward Hammond Clarke, Visions: A Study of False Sight (Pseudopia), Houghton Osgood, Boston, 1878, p. 5.
  96. William James classified these as "illusions of the second kind." Please refer to the previous paper for a discussion.
  97. Allston, "Monaldi," in ibid, p. 23 ff.
  98. reproduced in Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Winslow Homer, Abrams, 1979, p. 283.
  99. Eliot Clark, N.A., History of the National Academy of Design 1825-1953, Columbia University Press, New York, 1954, p. 95.
  100. What I had seen in Homer's works was previously discussed in my 1988 paper "Some New Discoveries about Winslow Homer." There is, however, much more that I have seen since that paper was written.