Winslow Homer was one of the first American painters to liberate watercolor from being simply a tinted drawing and to develop it as an independent medium. His watercolors expressed a poetic vision not often found in his oil paintings.
In the spring of 1890, Homer visited the St. Johns River in Florida. In this work, one of forty known from his various Florida visits, Homer simply and directly portrayed Florida topography as a vast expanse of river and marshes, punctuated by four swaying palm trees. Homer merged the epic with the mundane as he placed the stark white rowboat and three fishermen in this solitary habitat. The towering, indigenous palm trees stand as testaments to the dominance of nature over man.