Winslow Homer’s “Right and Left” is regarded as one of the most powerful and innovative paintings in American art history. Completed in 1909, it is an oil on canvas piece that depicts two common goldeneye ducks being shot by a hunter while about to take flight. The unique vantage point of the viewer floating just above the waves with the ducks at eye level adds to the painting’s impact and innovation.
Homer was known for deepening his works with intimations of mortality, evident in “Right and Left,” which he created during the last decade of his life when he painted less frequently. The painting has been interpreted in multiple ways, including as depicting duck hunting, conflict between man and nature or a meditation on life and death.
Today, “Right and Left” is considered one of Homer’s culminating achievements as an artist. It was titled by a viewer during its first public showing – now part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., where it is recognized worldwide for its thought-provoking message that still resonates today.