Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Judy Sund

Committee Members

Katherine Manthorne

Mona Hadler

Sarah Burns

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Art and Architecture | Arts and Humanities | Contemporary Art | Fine Arts | Modern Art and Architecture


Florida, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Race, Tropics


This dissertation examines the Floridian works of Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent in the context of tourism, race, and the environment as perceptions of the tropics in an Anglo-American context. Both artists sojourned in Florida and produced a number of watercolors and related oils that not only testify to a rapidly-expanding tourist industry to the Sunshine State, but also update the Romantic myths of the tropics with a more sober, ironic Realist take. While Homer and Sargent continue to be popular subjects for studies and exhibitions on their own, this dissertation is the first to consider how their shared attitudes toward and experiences in the tropics might reveal a wider web of connections between two otherwise antithetical artists. By focusing on their work in Florida, this study not only revises the historiography of each artist, but considers how their work in the American Tropics speaks most directly to contemporary concerns about race, the environment, and art-making.

This project extends a consideration of two Gilded-Age artists into the twenty-first century, asserting broader connections to modern and modernist ideas of the environment. The state of Florida persists in the national imagination as the locus of troubling anxieties and bold aspirations concerning nationality, borders, and real estate values. Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent were some of the first artist travelers to explore these themes in Florida.