Inness, George

Inness, George
born May 1, 1825, Newburgh, N.Y., U.S.
died Aug. 3, 1894, Bridge of Allen, Stirling, Scot.

U.S. landscape painter.

He was largely self-taught. His early paintings were influenced by the Hudson River school. He spent much time in Europe studying the works of the Barbizon school, and from с 1855 to 1874 he developed the luminous, atmospheric quality for which his landscapes are known. The influence of Camille Corot is evident in his intimately rendered images of far-reaching expanses. His later works are marked by the ascendancy of colour over form. His sense of mysticism intensified over time, and the pictures tended to dissolve into shimmering colour with no outlines or formal construction. See also luminism.

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▪ American painter
born May 1, 1825, Newburgh, New York, U.S.
died August 3, 1894, Bridge of Allen, Stirling, Scotland

      American painter known especially for the luminous, atmospheric quality of his late landscapes.

      Inness was largely self-taught. His early works such as The Lackawanna Valley (1855) reflect the influence of Asher B. Durand (Durand, Asher B) and Thomas Cole (Cole, Thomas), painters of the Hudson River school. From about 1855 to 1874 Inness ascended to the height of his powers with works such as the Delaware Water Gap (1861) and the Delaware Valley (1865). His characteristic small canvases from this period show that he was no longer strictly preoccupied with the carefully rendered detail of the Hudson River school but instead began to explore light and colour in the manner of Camille Corot (Corot, Camille) and the French Barbizon school. Inness's increasing control over spatial relations, scale, drawing, and colour allowed him to achieve a sense of the idyllic and tranquil in his works.

 From 1875 Inness's works, such as Autumn Oaks (c. 1875), displayed a great concentration of feeling that presaged the ascendancy of colour over form in his late works. He explored the ideas he had articulated in an article entitled “Colours and Le Correspondences,” in which he described the spiritual significance of specific colour combinations. As his mystical view of nature intensified, his pictures dissolved into shimmering colour, which was magnificent in itself and was no longer supported by formal construction. In The Home of the Heron, painted in 1893, Inness used subtle tonal variety to suggest a hazy atmosphere; the overlapping veils of colour unite earth and sky and underscore the harmony of the universe—a tenet central to Swedenborgianism (Swedenborg, Emanuel), the belief system to which he adhered.

      His son George Inness, Jr., was also a painter and remained faithful to the practices of the Barbizon school and resisted Impressionism in obedience to his father's strongly expressed convictions.

Additional Reading
Nikolai C. Cikovsky, Jr., George Inness (1971); Nikolai C. Cikovsky, Jr., and Michael Quick, George Inness (1985); George Inness: The Spiritual Landscape, published by Borghi & Co. (1991).

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