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1868 Winslow Homer Matted Wood Engraving

New England Factory Life - "Bell Time"

This is one of Winslow Homer's very rare prints addressing the Industrial Revolution that was transforming the Western World. In "Winslow Homer's Magazine Engravings," Philip C. Beam, New York, 1979, the author has this comment about Homer's depiction of factory life in this engraving:

His engravings which reflected the Industrial Revolution were so few as to be remarkable. Outstanding among them are The Morning Bell and New England Factory Life - "Bell-Time." Except for one weary elderly woman in the foreground, the engraving portrays the tiny New England country mills of the day which preserved some rural, if not idyllic, quality. The New England Factory Life is his one concession to the dreary effect produced by mass production upon masses of workers in massive factories. According to the text it was sketched at Lawrence, Massachusetts," near Homer's brother's country home. In atmosphere it resembled the somber fact of life depicted in the European realism of Millet's Man with the Hoe or Courbet's Stone-Breakers.

There were some "tiny New England country mills" but the one shown and those in Lawrence, Massachusetts were not in that class. Below is a close-up of some of the workers leaving the factory, including children holding their lunch buckets, this scene in 1868 was obviously before child labor laws.

Below is the print as matted (cropped a little in this picture) and enclosed in a protective plastic sleeve (which creates the camera reflection). The print is in very nice condition and the mat will pop into a standard size 16 x 20 inch frame. There is a small foxing mark dear the top border near the factory tower and the lines between the wood blocks in the engraving are more prominent than in most of Homer's engravings.


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