Winslow Homer (1836 -1910)
The Family Record
Harper's Bazar, Vol. VIII, August 28, 1875
Wood engraving on paper
Winslow Homer’s last wood engraving. It depicts parents recording their child’s birth. Homer created a story by including a small rendition of Pieter Vanderlyn’s oil painting of an earlier generation child, Cornelius D. Wynkoop at age eight (1743), then adding a Dutch windmill.
Homer’s generational theme was inspired by the fact that nine generations of the Dutch Wynkoop family had lived in Hurley (1660's-1870's). The engraving depicts a corner of the George Wynkoop living room as shown in the ca.1890 photograph to the right.
Detail: Wynkoop living room
Detail of the photograph to the right. The corner of the Wynkoop living room showing the portrait of Cornelius D. Wynkoop as a child, his sword propped on the chair seat, and an 18th-century NY slat-back great chair -- all elements seen in Homer's The Family Record to the left. (Courtesy Viola Opdahl)
Wynkoop living room ca. 1890
A ca.1890 photograph of the living room of the George Wynkoop home on Wynkoop Road in Hurley, NY. The family has arranged several of their most prized antiques for the photo shoot. Many elements in this picture are depicted in Homer's wood engraving The Family Record -- portrait, slat-back chair, sword on chair, and ceiling beams. The photograph is a remarkable find because it is the only known instance where a Homer artwork can be so definitively connected to a physical location. Without a doubt, Winslow Homer was sitting in the Wynkoop home in Hurley making the drawing for this engraving.
Col. Wynkoop's portrait still exists as does his Revolutionary War era sword. The slat-back 18th century chair was sold at the on-site Wynkoop estate auction in 1969 and its whereabouts are unknown. Certainly fame and possibly fortune awaits the person who finds the "Homer chair."
(Courtesy of Viola Opdahl)
Pieter Vanderlyn (American, ca. 1687 - 1778)
Cornelius Wynkoop, 1743
oil on panel, 43 x 25 in
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
This large portrait of Col. Cornelius D. Wynkoop at 8 years old hung in the Wynkoop home on Wynkoop Road in Hurley for over 200 years until it was sold out of the family. It was on display in the living room when Homer visited Hurley in 1875 and made the drawing for The Family Record. The family always hung the Colonel's Revolutionary War era sword on the wall above the portrait. The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, now owns both the portrait and sword, being gifted to them by the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation. (Photo: Reilly Rhodes)
Slat-back Great Chair
The ultimate fate of the original chair depicted in Homer's The Family Record is still a mystery, but Viola Opdahl decided that the Wynkoop homestead needed a replacement. Here she is at the museum with a fine example of an 18th century New York slat-back great chair attributed to the fabled Beekman-Elting workshops (1672-1814) of Kingston, NY. The Homer chair came from the same workshops. You can see the many similarities.
Note the characteristic details of the chair: the urn finials on the two back posts, the mushroom-shaped finials on the front posts, the ladder-back slats, the flat surface of each of the two arms, and the spacious seat. Great chair is a perfect name for it. (Photo: Judy Howard 2019).
Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Figure of a Woman, ca.1875
Graphite on paper, 7 5/8 × 2 13/16 in
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
A drawing serving as a study for The Family Record. There was no young woman with a baby living in the Wynkoop home at the time Homer was there, so it is unknown who the models might have been for this artwork.