50's, meant is of course the 1850's. Started as a commercial printmaker in Boston and NY, briefly studying oil painting in the spring of 1861.
1860's: was sent to the front as an illustrator/correspondent for Harper's Weekly. The second half of the decade, and basically the entire next one, saw Homer developing his art, and were characterized by artistic experimentation and a preference for incorporating nature and especially natural light in his works. Many of his subjects in this period he found at seaside resorts in MA and NJ, although he also frequented the Adirondacks and the White Mountains. It should be noted however that although he began to establish his reputation as a painter in this timeframe, for most of the time in the 60s and 70s he still needed the design of magazine illustrations as a source of income.
After a brief stint in the early eighties in Cullercoats, a village in northern England, where he was impressed by the strenuous lives led by the fishermen and their womenfolk, he settled for good in Prout's Neck, Maine, where he lived and worked until his death, notwithstanding journeys to the Caribbean. His major works from then on would focus on the struggle of Man against the (marine) elements, and, going beyond that, on the naked force of nature, of the Sea, itself.
I chose three works to get you acquainted with Winslow Homer:
Hail to the artist, a...