Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Veteran In A New Field, Winslow Homer 1865
Boston Fine Art Museum

This is a famous American painting of a Confederate solider "demobalized" after the end of the Civil War. On the lower left hand corner there is a grey army jacket and an army canteen. Homer choose an ordinary moment in time which is also highly symbolic. Cutting wheat was an important part of American ante-bellum agriculture. Yet it also harkens to the glory of the Roman solider who easily puts down his weapon in a time of peace and returns to his farm work. There is also a Biblical passage which states "and their weapons shall be beaten into plowshares." The tension of the scythe cutting full heads of wheat, also suggests the many young men who were killed in battle.

Crack the Whip, Winslow Homer 1800s
American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

This iconic painting is one of Homer's most famous, showing boys at play beside a one-room school house on the frontier. The boys are humble (no one has no shoes) yet happy. Despite their current poverty, the boys have the promise of a free education and a free land from the US Homestead Act.

Prayer: Lord, while we are at work and at play, let us humbly remember the fighting men and women who are far from their families this Lenten Season. May we all pray for peace this Easter.