George Inness

(Newburgh, NY, 1825 - 1894, Montclair, New Jersey)


Born near Newburgh, New York, Inness moved to Newark, New Jersey, at age four. He studied first with a local artist, then with Regis Gignoux in New York City, painting landscapes in the Hudson River School style. In 1850, Inness married and spent the next fifteen months honeymooning and painting in Italy. Another trip to Europe in 1854 brought him under the influence of the Barbizon painters. He abandoned his earlier style for a more atmospheric, painterly, manner. Inness was perhaps the major influence on the shift in nineteenth-century American painting away from the detail and finish of the Hudson River School toward the more subjective, painterly style known as Tonalism. In the mid-1860s, Inness converted to the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg, who believed that everything was animated and united by a divine, spiritual life force. Inness’s artistic goal became the expression of correspondences between this force and the natural world. Inness went abroad again in 1870; he spent five years painting in Italy. Returning to America, he developed a more personal landscape style. His late work represents a final welding of his philosophical and religious ideas with his artistic concerns: discovering visual, formal equivalents for the spiritual force animating the universe.

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