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Inness, George
George Inness (1825-1894)
Birth Place Newburgh, New York
Death Place Bridge of Allan, Stirling, Scotland
Born 1825
Died 1894
General Notes Born near Newburgh, New York, George Inness first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York at age nineteen. His early landscapes reflect the Hudson River School style, but his work in the 1860s changed the course of American landscape painting. His moody studies, painted in closely keyed tones, stand in sharp contrast to the crisply defined scenes bathed in effulgent light that characterize much of the country's landscape painting at the middle of the nineteenth century. Inness' landscapes, inspired by the works of the Barbizon painters he encountered in France in the early 1850s, are intuitively painted and typically essay simple, rustic themes, often subjects from around his home in rural Medfield, Massachusetts. He increasingly eschewed topographical detail in his work, and by the 1880s he was painting almost amorphous landscapes, twilight scenes that dissolve into pure color effects. These reflect his growing fascination with the spiritualism of the philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). In fact, Inness' late paintings endeavor to create the visual equivalent of the Swedenborgian teaching that the earthly realm is continuous with the heavenly one. He settled in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1878 but traveled widely, usually to improve his poor health. He worked in Florida and northern California, where he profoundly influenced that region's innovative landscape school. He died while traveling in Scotland.
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