courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Winslow Homer was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His artistic education consisted chiefly of his apprenticeship to the Boston commercial lithographer John H. Bufford, and a few lessons in painting from Frédéric Rondel after that. Following his apprenticeship, Homer worked as a freelance illustrator for such magazines as Harper's Weekly. In 1859 he moved to New York City, where he began his career as a painter. He visited the front during the Civil War and his first important paintings were of Civil War subjects. In 1875 he submitted his last drawing to Harper's Weekly, ending his career as an illustrator. He traveled widely in the 1870s in the United States, and in 1881 he began a two-year stay in England, living in Cullercoats, near Newcastle.
Returning to America in 1883, he settled at Prout's Neck, Maine, where he would live for the rest of his life. He continued to travel widely, including Canada and the Caribbean, in all those places painting the watercolours upon which much of his later fame would be based. In 1890 he painted the first of the series of seascapes at Prout's Neck that were the most admired of his late paintings in oil. Homer died in his Prout's Neck studio on September 30, 1910.
In The Studio, a cellist and a violinist, probably amateur musicians, are shown practicing in an artist’s studio, using easels as music stands. Whether Homer painted it during his visit to Paris in 1866-67 or later, in New York, the canvas has a French character. Bohemian life provided a wealth of material for painters and writers in France during this period. Studio scenes and musical performances were popular subjects for members of the French avant-garde, and this sketchy painting has been compared to works by Edgar Degas.