Sunday, February 7, 2010

A FINER SENTIMENT OF LIGHT AND COLOR




George Inness studio, 1980
From Wikimedia


For many people, there are three basic types of American landscape painting: realistic, impressionistic and abstract. Thomas Cole, Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt typify the glories of the "realistic" Hudson River and Rocky Mountain schools; John Twachtman, William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam typify the glories of the "impressionist" camp; and Richard Diebenkorn, Georgia O'Keefe and Charles Sheeler typify the glories of the "abstract" practitioners.
There is, however, another category, Tonalism, which is typified by the late work of George Inness, who was born in 1825 in Newburgh, New York and began his career as a Hudson River School painter.
In contrast with the clarity of the Hudson River School aesthetic, the flourishes of the Impressionists and the boldness of the abstract artists, Tonalism is poetic, lush, rapturous and intimate. It evokes the best of Whistlerian reverie and begs for some diaphonous ladies by Thomas Wilmer Dewing.
(Carter B. Horsley at The City Review)
Inness was a visionary artist whose renderings of nature were profoundly spiritual, a style inspired by his belief in Swedenborgianism, the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), which embraced a theory of the connection of the spiritual and material worlds. Inness' considerable contribution to American art at the turn of the century greatly influenced 20th century art movements, and brought recognition to American artists in their own right as peers of their European counterparts. George Inness settled in Montclair, New Jersey in 1885, living and working there until his death in 1894. The town of Montclair was frequently the subject of his art, and as a nationally and internationally recognized artist during his lifetime, Inness' presence attracted other well-known artists, and helped establish the town's reputation as an intellectual community and artists' colony, one of the earliest in the country.
(Montclair Art Museum)


Winter Morning, Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1882
Montclair Art Museum
(Montclair, New Jersey, United States)
from ARC


Sunset at Montclair, 1885
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 in (76.2 x 101.6 cm)
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
From the Artchive


Sundown near Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1885
Public collection
From ARC


Summer, Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1887
(72.39 x 96.52 cm)
Public collection
From ARC


Early Autumn, Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1888
Montclair Art Museum
(Montclair, New Jersey, United States)
From ARC


Early Autumn, Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1891
Delaware Art Museum
From ARC


Summer, Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1891
(114.3 x 76.835 cm)
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Martucci
From ARC


Home at Montclair
Oil on canvas, 1892
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
(Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States)
From ARC


George Inness, born near Newburgh, New York, was the fifth of thirteen children. His father, a prosperous grocer, tried to make a grocer out of him, but the youth decided instead to become an artist. Around 1841, he received a month's instruction from John Jesse Barker, a painter living in Newark, New Jersey, where the Inness family had moved in 1829. From the age of sixteen, Inness served a two-year apprenticeship as an engraver with the New York mapmaking firm of Sherman and Smith. He took some instruction in painting from Régis Gignoux about 1843, around the time he was studying and being influenced by prints of the paintings of Claude Lorrain and the seventeenth-century Dutch landscape masters. He was also seeing the work of the leading Hudson River School painters - particularly that of Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand - whose style is recalled in some of his early canvases.
By the late 1840s, Inness was exhibiting regularly in New York and had attracted a patron, Ogden Haggerty. Inness married Elizabeth Hart in 1850, and the following February the couple departed for a fifteen-month stay in Italy made possible by Haggerry's financial support. On their way home, they stopped in Paris, where Inness visited an exhibition that included work by the Barbizon painter Théodore Rousseau; after a second trip abroad, in 1853-54, the work of Rousseau and other Barbizon painters exerted a strong influence on Inness's art.
Inness and his family left New York in 1860, moving first to Medfield, Massachusetts, and later to an estate near Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In the early 1860s, fellow artist William Page introduced Inness to the theories of Emanuel Swedenborg, which made a deep and lasting impression on him; indeed, became a major force in his intellectual life. Throughout that decade, spent in rural surroundings, he sought to make his paintings convey the profound spiritual meaning he felt the landscape around him possessed.
In 1870, the Innesses moved to Italy for four years, during which time the artist sent back paintings to be sold by the Boston dealers Williams and Everett, receiving in exchange regular monthly payments. Stopping again in Paris on the way back to the United States, in 1874, Inness first saw works by the Impressionists in an exhibition he visited, but he thought little of that new style of painting.
In 1878, Inness's fortunes improved when Thomas B. Clarke, a prominent New York art dealer, became his agent. He took a studio in the New York University Building and bought a house and studio in Montclair, New Jersey. His theories on painting were published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1878 and 1882; in 1882, Charles De Kay, under the pseudonym Henry Eckford, wrote an important critical article about his work. Two years later, a major exhibition of Inness's work was sponsored by John E Sutton, proprietor of the American Art Association, from which the artist emerged as the leading light in American landscape painting, an eminent position he enjoyed for the rest of his career.
During the last years of his life, he spent summers traveling and painting in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and Florida. He and his wife returned to Europe in 1894, when Inness once again visited Paris, as well as Baden-Baden and Munich. On his way home, he died of a stroke in the Bridge of Allan, a small Scottish resort village. On 23 August 1894, the National Academy of Design held an impressive funeral service for Inness, who was by then one of its most illustrious members.
(From "American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School" at the Artchive)
The art life of Inness is marked by two distinct styles, the first indicating careful finish and conscientious regard for details. The second style, formed with the expanding grasp of the principles of art, shows a richer appreciation of the truths of nature, is broad and vigorous, paying higher regard to masses than to details. The quality of his paintings is very uneven, as he is sometimes careless, and often mars a good work by eccentric and experimental devices. Yet no painter has represented the aspects of nature in the American climate with deeper feeling, a finer sentiment of light and color, or a better command of technical resources. He has been more influenced by the French school of landscape painting than any other American artist, yet his style is distinct and original. He is a follower of Swedenborg, and many of his paint­ings have a spiritual or allegorical significance.
Among his best pictures are "The Sign of Promise," "Peace and Plenty," "Going out of the Woods," " A Vision of Faith," "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," "The Apocalyptic Vision of the New Jerusalem and River of Life," "A Passing Storm," "Summer Sunshine and Shadow," "Summer Afternoon," "Twilight," "Light Triumphant," "Pine Grove," "Barbarini Villa," "Joy after the Storm," " Viewnear Rome," "Wash­ing Day near Perugia," "The Mountain Stream," "Autumn," "Italian Landscape," "Passing Clouds," " The Afterglow," "The Morning Sun," and "Delaware WaterGap." His "American Sunset " was selected as a representative work of American art for the Paris exposition of 1867.
In 1878 he exhibited at the Paris exposition "St.Peter's, Rome, from the Tiber" and " View near Medfield, Mass.," and in the National academy "An Old Roadway, Long Island." In 1882 he exhibited at the academy exhibition in New York city "Under the Green Wood"; in 1883, "A Summer Morning ": in 1885, "A Sunset" and "A Day in June" :" in 1886, "In the Woods," "Sunset on the SeaShore," and "Durham Meadows."
(Edited Appleton's Cyclopedia American Biography Copyright© 2001 by StanKlosTM at VIRTUALOLOGY)


Autumn
Oil on canvas, 1859
(45.7 x 25.4 cm)
Private collection
From ARC


A Passing Shower
Oil on canvas, 1860
(258.06 x 167.64 cm)
Canajohorie Library and Art Gallery (New York, USA)


Sunset
Oil on board, c1860-c1865
(36.8 x 26 cm)
Private collection
From ARC


Coming Thunderstorm (Approaching Storm), 1868
Provenance: Audry Tefft, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1956
Vose Galleries, Boston, 1956
George F. McMurray, Glendale, California
Alexander Gallery, New York, circa 1993
From haughton.com


An Adirondack Pastorale
Oil on canvas, 1869
Albany Institute of History & Art


Like a number of similar paintings that Inness produced, this view (above) celebrates the American landscape. Discarding the narrative detail and most of the figures that were present in his earlier work, Inness heightened the expressiveness of his post Civil War paintings relying instead on the play between atmospheric elements like the hazy, light summer sky and lush, dark green woodlands that are portrayed in this picture. Obviously a composition, the title, Adirondack Pastoral, reflects the public’s burgeoning interest in the northern wilderness of New York State.
(Albany Institute of History & Art, Bequest of Marjorie Doyle Rockwell)


Passing Clouds
Oil on canvas, 1876
(76.2 x 50.8 cm)
Private collection
From ARC


Morning
Oil on canvas, c1878
(114.3 x 76.2 cm)
Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (Madrid, Spain)
From ARC



The Coming Storm
Oil on canvas,
(60.96 x 40.64 cm)
Museum of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute
(Utica, New York, United States)
From ARC


The American idea of nature in the nineteenth century was pantheistic and spiritual. Nature was the work of God and was believed to have the power to uplift, both morally and spiritually, anyone who spent time in its contemplation. George Inness, unlike many of his contemporaries, did not paint vast expanses of the wilderness. He chose instead to represent settled and cultivated landscapes, such as this one (above) believed to be in New Hampshire. Inness was not interested in realism, or scientific studies of nature, but instead had a philosophical approach to landscape. In his middle age, he was drawn to the ideas of Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, which taught that God was immanent in every living thing and that the visual world contained an inner essence that was revealed subconsciously to those who were attuned to it. Inness believed that it was the artist’s role to capture on canvas these spiritual qualities of nature in order to help other people see them as well. He wrote, "The purpose of the painter is simply to reproduce in other minds the impression which a scene has made upon him. A work of art does not appeal to the intellect. It does not appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion."
The Coming Storm, a favorite theme in his work, reflects this philosophy, as well as Inness’s belief that the relationship between man and nature was one of equals who lived in harmony, with neither being dominated by the other. For example, although a seemingly violent storm approaches, the farmer continues to cultivate his field unconcerned, while his cattle graze peacefully in the pasture. The farms are nestled safely and snugly in the landscape, and the smoke from the chimney of the one on the left mingles with the clouds, whose darkness contrasts dramatically with the unusual light effects caused by such storms. The continuity and renewal of life is reflected in the farmland itself and also by the juxtaposition of a stump and a newly growing sapling in the lower right corner. Inness described the balance of the observed with the inferred in his paintings: "Whatever is painted truly according to any idea of unity possesses both the subjective sentiment—the poetry of nature—and the objective fact." Thus, what he sees is combined with what he feels.
There is a local history regarding The Coming Storm. Inness’s daughters attended a boarding school in Batavia, New York, and the artist gave the headmistress this painting as a partial tuition payment. She gave it to her daughter in Buffalo, and The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy purchased it from her in 1900.
(Mariann Smith at The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy)


A Breezy Autumn
Oil on canvas, 1887
(127 x 76.5 cm)
Public collection
From ARC


Afterglow
Oil on canvas,
(31.115 x 36.195 cm)
Public collection
From ARC


Sunset
Oil on canvas,
(60.9 x 40.6 cm)
Private collection
From ARC


The Trout Brook
Oil on canvas, 1891
(114.935 x 76.835 cm)
Newark Museum (United States)
From ARC


The Coming Storm
Oil on canvas, 1893
(304.8 x 152.4 cm)
Public collection
From ARC


Approaching Storm
From allPaintings


Eventide, Tarpon Springs, Florida
Oil on canvas, 1893
The Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, Massachusetts
From Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute


George Inness criticized much art of his day for its "skeptical scientific tendency to ignore the reality of the unseen." His own late paintings were not literal transcriptions of nature but evocations of spiritual truth. One painter friend provided a key to Inness's Eventide, Tarpon Springs, Florida (above): "He who would know its profundities must sit with it, dream with it, and so he shall come to know that true art bears a message to the Soul of man." This is good counsel for each work here. The friend described Eventide as "breathed upon the canvas," emphasizing the apparent ease of the picture's realization, though Inness often scraped and repainted his canvases. Vision, not surface, was important. As Inness's son wrote of the late paintings: "They are done with art, not paint. They are not mere representations of things or nature; they are the soul of the master as he takes us with him in spirit. . . . His great regret was that he was limited to paint. ‘If only I could paint it without paint!' was his lament."
(Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute)


Rainbow
From MUSICAL ASSUMPTIONS


"There is nothing like an Inness sky. George Inness can consistently capture the look and feel of a sky (any sky) at its most expressive: he manages to preserve the kind of sky that makes you summon the family to drop everything and come and look out the window. He didn't only paint the skies that come before and after storms, but those are the paintings of his that excite me the most. The picture above comes from a postcard purchased at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where the painting makes its home in the permanent collection. The real thing, in its oiled "flesh," does far more for me than the postcard or its digitized image, but the image does help remind me of what it was to experience the real painting." - Elaine Fine at MUSICAL ASSUMPTIONS.
George Inness last words on this earth were reported to be "My God! oh, how beautiful!", when viewing a Scottish sunset at Bridge of Allan, he then fell to the ground dead having suffered a massive stoke. This may seem a macabre way to introduce him but focus as his last words and thoughts were about the beauty of the sunset he was viewing it's not surprising that he was a great lanscpe painter. To view the beauty of nature through fresh eyes and appreciate it's wonders until his very last moment on this earth is quite an inspiration for others, be they great master landscape artistsor bagmen.
(Lucinda Knowlton at artbylucindaknowlton.com)


Hazy Morning, Montclair, New Jersey, 1893
From butlerart.com


Since the beginning of Inness's artistic maturity, the appearance, inspiration, and expressive effect of his paintings was most frequently described as poetic. And as, over time, the style of his paintings became increasingly more suggestive, as their form became broader and their resemblance's to natural appearance less and less direct, their poetic content seemed to grow in direct proportion, reaching its highest and purest state in paintings of the last few years of his life. Painted the year before Inness's death, Hazy Morning, Montclair, New Jersey (above) is one of those late poetic paintings.
(NICOLAI CIKOVSKY, JR. at butlerart.com)
The allusiveness of its style, with all solid form blurred, corroded, and reduced to a pervasive vaporous substance more metaphysical than physical in nature-"a subtle essence which exists in all things of the material world" that constitutes "an atmosphere about the bald detail of facts,"-could be regarded as a logical development and climax of Inness's lifelong belief in the value of spiritual meaning, emotional expression, and suggestion: "You must suggest to me reality-you can never show me reality." Inness, however, disclaimed poetic vagueness unequivocally: "Poetry is the vision of reality ... (not some) gaseous representation.... What is often called poetry is a mere jingle of rhyme-intellectual dish-water. The poetic quality is not obtained by eschewing any truths of fact or of Nature which can be included in a harmony or real representation." To Inness the poetic representation of reality consisted in the same facts of nature as reality itself: color, distance, air, space, and contrasts of light and dark.
Inness's creative impulsiveness was well known. There are many descriptions of his frenzied "attack" on a canvas, and of the wholesale changes he could make in a painting's subject or effect in a seizure of inspiration. Nevertheless, by the last decade of his life Inness painted according to a fairly fixed artistic method, working "in mass from generals to particulars" and finishing with "glazing, delicate painting, and scumbling." In the last years of Inness's life this method did not change, but his productive energy did. As he wrote late in 1892, "I am inclined to think that my days of impetuous painting are ended and that I shall be obliged to consider longer and do less." He admitted that his paintings were often less highly finished. "Until lately," he wrote, "when I became disgusted with slow progress I could take a clean canvas and under the impulse paint a satisfactory picture." But now, unable to do that, he had "accumulated a number of unfinished work."
In December 1894, five months after Inness's death, two hundred and forty works in his estate were exhibited in New York, preceding their sale at auction two months later. They were picked, "from a total of some six hundred completed and unfinished canvases and drawings which were found in the studio and residence of the late artist." Only about twenty had been shown before, most painted during the last fifteen years of his life. "They were finished and unfinished and framed and frameless, sketches, studies and memoranda of moods and impressions.... Inness himself would probably be surprised at the resurrection of canvases that he had thrown aside and forgotten."" Announcing the result of the sale in February 1895, the New York Sun said that the $108,670 the paintings brought was "really a remarkable achievement, for these were works left in the painter's studio at his death, only a few of which had ever been regarded as finished and ready to be offered for sale." Hazy Morning, Montclair, New Jersey was number 187 in this sale.
(NICOLAI CIKOVSKY, JR. at butlerart.com)



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