luminist, n., adj.
/looh"meuh niz'euhm/, n.
a style of landscape painting practiced by some mid-19th-century American artists, esp. of the Hudson River School, that emphasized meticulously crafted realism and a technically precise rendering of atmosphere and of the effects produced by direct and reflected light.
[1900-05; < L lumin-, s. of lumen light + -ISM]

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Painting style that emphasizes a particular clarity of light.

It is characteristic of the works of a group of U.S. painters of the late 19th century, influenced by the Hudson River school. Typically landscapes or seascapes, with sky occupying nearly half the composition, luminist works are distinguished by cool, clear colours and meticulously detailed objects modeled by light. The most prominent luminist painters were John Frederick Kensett, Martin Johnson Heade, and Fitz Hugh Lane.

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 late 19th-century painting style emphasizing a unique clarity of light. It was characteristic of the works of a group of independent American painters who were directly influenced by the Hudson River school of painting. The term, however, was not coined until 1954 by John Baur, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

      The most important painters in the luminist style were John Frederick Kensett (Kensett, John Frederick), Fitz Hugh Lane, and Martin Johnson Heade; the group also included George Tirrell, Henry Walton, and J.W. Hill. Paintings by the luminists are almost always landscapes or seascapes, particularly the latter, and are distinguished by a smooth, slick finish; cold, clear colours; and meticulously detailed objects, modeled by rays of light. In these paintings, the sky usually occupies about one-half of the composition, which is often in the format of a long rectangle. The works often show a geometric organization, with the edges of specific objects aligned parallel to the canvas edges.

      Although it was not an organized movement, later landscapists, such as George Loring Brown, adopted certain characteristics of the luminists and therefore are sometimes classified with them. Many untrained, or naive, painters, especially those of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were influenced by elements of luminism such as its hard linearism, depth, and clear modeling.

Additional Reading
John Wilmerding, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875 (1980, reprinted 1989).

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Universalium. 2010.

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