George Inness

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George Inness (May 1, 1825 -August 3, 1894) was an American landscape painter; born in Newburgh, New York; died at Bridge of Allan in Scotland. His work was influenced, in turn, by that of the old masters, the Hudson River school, the Barbizon school, and, finally, by the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg, whose spiritualism found vivid expression in the work of Inness' maturity. He is best known for these mature works that helped define the Tonalist movement.

Contents

Youth

Inness was the fifth of thirteen children born to John William Inness, a farmer, and his wife, Clarissa Baldwin. His family moved to Newark, New Jersey when he was about five years of age.[1] In 1839 he studied for several months with an itinerant painter, John Jesse Barker. In his teens, Inness worked as a map engraver in New York City. During this time he attracted the attention of French landscape painter Régis François Gignoux, with whom he subsequently studied. Throughout the mid-1840s he also attended classes at the National Academy of Design, and studied the work of Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole and Asher Durand; "If", Inness later recalled thinking, "these two can be combined, I will try."[2]

Concurrent with these studies Inness opened his first studio in New York. In 1849 Inness married Delia Miller, who died a few months later. The next year he married Elizabeth Abigail Hart, with whom he would have six children.[3]

Early career

In 1851 a patron named Ogden Haggerty sponsored Inness' first trip to Europe to paint and study. Inness spent more than a year in Rome, during which time he rented a studio above that of painter William Page, who likely introduced the artist to Swedenborgianism.

During trips to Paris in the early 1850s, Inness came under the influence of artists working in the Barbizon school of France. Barbizon landscapes were noted for their looser brushwork, darker palette, and emphasis on mood. Inness quickly became the leading American exponent of Barbizon-style painting, which he developed into a highly personal style. In 1854 his son George Inness, Jr., who also became a landscape painter of note, was born in Paris.

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