The Life Line

The Life Line
Artist Winslow Homer
Year 1884
Medium Oil on canvas
Location The George W. Elkins Collection
Dimensions 28 5/8 x 44 3/4 in
72.7 x 113.7 cm
Famous Paintings by Winslow Homer
Snap the Whip
The Gulf Stream
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
Right and Left
The Fox Hunt
Eight Bells
The Life Line
The Herring Net
The Blue Boat
Complete Works

The Life Line is an oil on canvas painting by the American artist Winslow Homer. The painting measures 28.63 by 44.75 inches. It is part of the Elkins collection and is held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


The painting is a dramatic representation of people being rescued from a foundering ship. The central focus of the painting is two people hanging in a breeches buoy, suspended from the rope and pulley above. The breeches buoy was a recent invention when Homer did the painting in 1884.

One of the rescued people is lolling backwards, apparently unconscious. The other person, whose face is obscured by a billowing scarf, has his arms wrapped around the unconscious person.

Most of the painting is done in shades of gray. It depicts mountainous seas under a storm cast sky. The bright red color of the scarf is in stark contrast to the rest of the painting.