To the Rescue was one of several paintings related to shipwrecks and rescue that Homer created in the 1880s.The artist was keenly aware of the power and dangers of the sea. Place To the Rescue in the context of Homer’s other images of shipwreck and rescue. Find other images by Winslow Homer of this subject. What is Homer’s message about man’s relationship to the sea? Discuss.
To the Rescue is a very ambiguous work of art. Where does the picture take place? On the beach? On the cliffs above a rocky shore? How does Homer divide the picture’s space to create this spatial ambiguity?
How does Homer create drama with the title, “To the Rescue”? Consider the scene without the title. How do the gestures and positions of the figures and the use of compositional diagonals add momentum and force to the picture? Print out this image and try to change the setting. How does the context change the meaning of the painting?
Look closely at the picture and determine if Homer painted the people after he created the seascape. What are some clues that help determine this?
With his title, To the Rescue, Homer generated drama and tension in the scene. Write a creative piece describing what will happen next. Who needs to be rescued—a shipwrecked boat, a swimmer caught in the undertow? Will the rescuers get there in time? How will they cope with danger and fear when faced with the perils of the sea?
Have students read excerpts from S. T. Coleridge’s “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” and compare to Homer’s painting. What are their similarities and differences? Do both poet and painter approach the sea in the same manner?
Research the history of shipwrecks and rescue missions. How were people rescued in the nineteenth century? Were these events rare or common?
Write a report about Maine and its coastal communities including Prout’s Neck.