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George Inness - United States Artist From Art History

Art History - Historical Artists > I > George Inness

united states artist george inness
Lake Nemi, oil on canvas,
30 by 45 inches

united states artist george inness
Early Morning, Tarpon Springs

Historical Artist - George Inness (1825 - 1894)

George Inness was a landscape painter in the United States who learned his trade from experimentation and travel to Europe. George Inness was born near Newburgh, New York and was the fifth of thirteen children. His father, a prosperous grocer, tried to make a grocer out of him, but the youth decided instead to become an artist.

George Inness began working in New York but moved to Boston in 1859. The Barbizon School and the Romantic movement influenced him and he was eventually associated with the Hudson River School. His later style moved away from this and he began painting intimate subjects in a more uninhibited fashion. Inness’s work also reflected his deep spirituality and had a Symbolist feel.

George Inness paintings of the 1860s and 1870s often tended toward the panoramic and picturesque, topped by cloud-laden and threatening skies, and included views of his native country, as well as scenes inspired by numerous travels overseas, especially to Italy and France.

George Inness' art was influenced by the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg. Of particular interest to George Inness was the notion that everything in nature had a correspondential relationship with something spiritual and so received an "influx" from God in order to continually exist. Another influence upon George Inness' thinking was William James, also an adherent to Swedenborgianism. In particular, Inness was inspired by James' idea of consciousness as a "stream of thought", as well as his ideas concerning how mystical experience shapes one's perspective toward nature.

After Inness settled in Montclair, New Jersey in 1878, and particularly in the last decade of his life, this mystical component manifested in his art through a more abstracted handling of shapes, softened edges, and saturated color, a profound and dramatic juxtaposition of sky and earth, an emphasis on the intimate landscape view, and an increasingly personal, spontaneous, and often violent handling of paint.

Inness died while in Scotland in 1894.

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