A Game of Croquet
Oil on canvas
During the 1860s, Winslow Homer undertook the earliest sustained treatment of croquet to appear in fine art. The game was a recent English import. Immediately popular, it provided women with a rare socially acceptable opportunity to compete on equal footing with men in an outdoor sport. The object of the game is to hit one's ball, using a mallet, through a succession of wickets, while trying to deter one's opponents from doing the same by "croqueting" their balls, launching them farther afield. The playfully vindictive nature of the game imbued the sport with a flirtatious ingredient that further enhanced its popularity.
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