HOMER, Winslow. Hardy Lee, His Yacht (1857). His comic album, very rare.

HOMER, Winslow. Hardy Lee, His Yacht (1857). His comic album, very rare.

[HOMER, Winslow] Charles Ellery STEDMAN, Mr. Hardy Lee, his yacht: being XXIV sketches on stone, by Chinks. Boston: A. Williams, 1857.  [24] leaves : all ill. ; 25 x 34 cm.  Original lithographed boards expertly rebacked and recornered to match the original roan.  Previous owner signature (partially erased) of Frank C. Morse, Haverhill, Mass, dated Dec 8, 1868, foxing to pages.  A very pleasing copy overall.

A comic album on yachting in Boston attributed to Steadman, comprising 24 sepia-tinted lithographs.  Stedman was a Harvard-educated surgeon and an artist today best celebrated for his sketchbook of scenes from the Civil War.  In 1974 a collector identified the lithographic work as being by Winslow Homer, who did much to improve Steadman’s original sketches, preserved at the Boston Athenaeum. The men were distant kin, and both were in Boston at the time, Stedman having opened a medical practice in Dorchester and Homer working as a freelance illustrator for Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion and other publications.  The question of attribution has riven the scholarly world. John Wilmerding has endorsed the work as Homer’s, David Tatham has demurred, and Lloyd Goodrich pronounced himself uncertain. It is regardless an excellent work, “full of humor and by the hand of a genuine yachtsman” according to a contemporary review in the New York Daily Times.  

The detailed drawings, often compared to the work of John Leech and Richard Doyle, alternate between the realistic (ships at rest in Boston Harbor) to the adventurous (“Cracking On”), to the slapstick (A sailor interrupting his superior as he is proposing to his sweetheart with “Fore-peak-halliards, please, Sir!”) The presence of an African American mariner in several pictures, always portrayed as good-humored and competent in contrast to the occasionally bumbling Hardy Lee, is a nice detail.

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    HOMER, Winslow. Hardy Lee, His Yacht (1857). His comic album, very rare.


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