Homeward Bound is a product of John George Brown’s 1877 and 1878 trips to Grand Manan Island, off the coast of Maine in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. The island was popular with the American literary and artistic set of the time, including the artists Edward Moran and Alfred Thompson Bricher. While many focused on the island’s topography, a rugged shoreline bordering a body of water famous for its extreme tides, it was the unique culture of men trying to make a living within that perilous environment that captured Brown’s attention. Homeward Bound and other paintings resulting from Brown’s time at Grand Manan were executed with comparatively loose and expressive brushwork. They were often painted on location and are set apart from his characteristic urban genre paintings in their intense focus on the rugged masculinity of the subjects. Brown sought to provide a record of concurrent cultures for preservation in posterity and “Grand Manan’s isolation and traditional way of life aroused his recording instincts” (Martha Hoppin, The World of J.G. Brown, Chesterfield, 2010, p. 116). A similar composition by the same title, Homeward Bound, is currently in the collection of Historic New England, Boston, Massachusetts.
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