Artists & Designers
George Inness Sr. (1825-1894)
A pivotal figure in the history of American landscape painting, George Inness developed the tenants of Hudson River School naturalism into a subjective and spiritual Tonalist approach that was widely influential by the end of the century. Born on a farm in Newburgh, New York, in 1825, Inness was afflicted with epilepsy. Unable to pursue a formal education, he decided at an early age to paint. Initial instruction came as an apprentice engraver and from an itinerant artist named John Jesse Barker, after which Inness studied with Regis Gignoux in Brooklyn sometime in 1843-45. He began exhibiting regularly at the National Academy of Design and American Art-Union in 1844. He made several trips to Europe where exposure to other landscape traditions, particularly the work of the Barbizon School and Camille Corot, had a strong impact. His first visit was around 1850, followed by others in 1853-54 and 1870-75. In the early 1860s, Inness lived and worked in Medfield, Massachusetts, and Eagleswood, New Jersey. During this time he was introduced by an artist friend William Page to the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg, which greatly influenced his ideas on religion and nature and ultimately found expression in his art. In 1868, he was elected to the National Academy of Design, and after his return from Europe in 1875 he worked in Boston and New York and in 1878 opened a studio in Montclair, New Jersey. During the 1870s Inness developed his mature style, moving further from the detailed accuracy of the Hudson River School into broadly brushed compositions that grasp not only a suggestion of external realities but an inner spirituality as well. By the 1880s, his work had achieved national acclaim, and he enjoyed a measure of economic success before his death on a trip to Scotland in 1894.
Steven A. Nash, "George Inness (1825-1894)", in Dallas Collects American Paintings: Colonial to Early Modern, ed. Robert V. Rozelle (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1982), 64.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Learn more about the artist and his work at SAAM.