Winslow Homer illustrated articles, fiction, and poetry for popular illustrated magazines, especially Harper's Weekly, for more than thirty years, with nearly 300 illustrations that mirrored the changing fabric of American society before, during, and after the Civil War.
The Nasher Museum has a collection of 185 wood engravings by Homer that represent the artist's visual reflections and his perspectives on American culture and ideals during the most productive period of his graphic output, from 1857 to 1888.
Homer grew up in the Boston area but moved to New York when he was in his early twenties. There he became a regular contributor to Harper's Weekly. He went to the Civil War front as an artist-correspondent.
When the war ended, he spent ten months in Paris before returning to New York. Homer's postwar production reflected leisure-time activities of contemporary society and a nostalgic depiction of a simple, rural life that was disappearing in America. Green Apples was an illustration included in the August 1868 issue of Our Young Folks, an illustrated serial publication for boys and girls by J. T. Trowbridge, a popular children's author. It illustrates a poem, also titled "Green Apples," that begins:
PULL down the bough, Bob! Is n't this fun?
Now give it a shake, and —
there goes one!
Now put your thumb up to the other,
If it is n't as mellow as mellow can be!
I know by the stripe
It must be ripe!
That's one apiece for you and me.
Green, are they? Well, no matter for that.
Sit down on the grass, and we'll have