When A Summer night debuted at Reichard's Gallery in New York in 1891, it was generally well received, but did evoke some mixed response. It did not immediately find a buyer. In December 1891 Homer offered it to Potter Palmer, Chicago's collector of French impressionist pictures, calling it Buffalo Girls. This was apparently in reference to the popular song "Buffalo Gal", which included the line "Buffalo Gal won't you come out tonight and dance by the light of the moon?" Potter declined the offer and Homer lent the picture to the Cumberland Club in Portland, where it remained for the rest of the decade.
In 1900 Homer sent A Summer Night, Maine Coast, Fox Hunt, to Exposition Universelle in Paris, where it received a gold medal. the French government purchased the picture for the Luxembourg Palace museum, one of the earliest acquisitions of a work by Homer by any museum (Fox Hunt was purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1894).