George Inness

American Landscape Painter

1825 - 1894

Photograph of George Inness

"We are all the subjects of impressions, and some of us seek to convey the impressions to others. In the art of communicating impressions lies the power of generalizing without losing the logical connection of parts to the whole which satisfies the mind."

~ George Inness

George Inness was an American landscape painter born in Newburgh, New York and 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.

Emanuel Swedenborg

A noted Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian, best known for his later writings, in which he presents ideas both Christian and ecumenical, for a new spiritual era or "new church" to be known as the New Jerusalem.

"There are two worlds, a spiritual world where angels and spirits are, and a natural world where men are."

~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Inness was the fifth of thirteen children born to John Williams Inness, a farmer, and his wife, Clarissa Baldwin. His family moved to Newark, New Jersey when he was about five years of age. 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-1840's 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."

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.

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 1850's, 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.

In the mid-1850's, Inness was commissioned by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to create paintings which documented the progress of DLWRR's growth in early Industrial America. The Lackawanna Valley, painted ca. 1855, represents the railroad's first roundhouse at Scranton, Pennsylvania, and integrates technology and wilderness within an observed landscape; in time, not only would Inness shun the industrial presence in favor of bucolic or agrarian subjects, but he would produce much of his mature work in the studio, drawing on his visual memory to produce scenes that were often inspired by specific places, yet increasingly concerned with formal considerations.

The Lackawanna Valley: 1855

Landscape painters did occasionally paint landscapes celebrating the triumph of civilization and technology over nature. However, such paintings were usually done reluctantly.

This painting was commissioned by the Lackawanna Railway Company. At first, the painter, George Inness, was repelled by the idea since he did not regard technology as a suitable subject for landscape painting.

In the end, Inness undertook the project to see if he could produce a pleasant result, despite the distasteful subject matter.

The work of the 1860's and 1870's often tended toward the panoramic and picturesque, topped by cloud-laden and threatening skies, and included views of his native country (Autumn Oaks, 1878, Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Catskill Mountains, 1870, Art Institute of Chicago), as well as scenes inspired by numerous travels overseas, especially to Italy and France (The Monk, 1873, Addison Gallery of American Art ; Etretat, 1875, Wadsworth Atheneum). In terms of composition, precision of drawing, and the emotive use of color, these paintings placed Inness among the best and most successful landscape painters in America.

Autumn Oaks: 1878

The composition of this picture is splendidly orchestrated, with a striking effect of unity and emphasis that did not exist in Inness's early works. He apparently painted this just after his return from four years abroad. His experience of painting in Italy and France led him away from naturalistic effects with much disparate detail toward coherent arrangements in which a single motif dominates, and everything else is subordinate. Here the sunlit trees dominate the entire landscape, their richness intensified by the deep foreground of shadow and blue violet tones of the lowering sky.

Catskill Mountains: 1870

The Monk: 1873

The Monk is one of his most haunting works and among the finest paintings of the nineteenth century. The setting for this extraordinary landscape is thought to be a particularly secluded corner of the grounds of the Villa Barberini, near Castel Gandolfo, a summer residence of the pope located some fifteen miles south of Rome. As in Lake Nemi, Inness pictures a solitary, cowled monk, a staff in his hand, strolling the grounds of an enclosed garden. He is dwarfed, first, by a tall stone wall, behind him and again by a bank of extremely tall, slender Italian pines in the middle distance. Although Italian pines are common features around Rome and the Marches, and although Inness had painted the Villa Barberini on many occasions, only in The Monk does he set the dark shapes of the pine arbors so effectively against a glowing yellow-ocher sky. By using unified brush marks to diminish nearly to eliminate details within these arbors, Inness devised these natural forms as abstract patterns of interconnected ensiform shapes. He must have been particularly delighted by the way in which they create, at their upper edge, a lissome, serpentine line of vivid beauty.

Lake Nemi: 1872

Lake Nemi, which fills the crater of an extinct volcano about seventeen miles southeast of Rome, was a favorite subject for both Inness and other American and European artists. The lake is situated in the Alban Hills, a beautiful wooded area which has served as a rural retreat from the hot, malarial Roman summers since ancient times. Inness visited the Lake Nemi during both of his trips to Italy (1851-52 and 1870-74) and spent the summer of 1872 in Castel Gandolfo on neighboring Lake Albano. He depicted Lake Nemi in at least nine paintings. In the present painting, Inness included the town of Nemi, identified by the distinctive round tower of the Colonna castle, on the left and across the lake the town of Genzano. This painting is a study for a recently rediscovered larger work from 1874 which is presently in a private collection.

Inness chose one of the outstanding prospects of Lake Nemi from which to take his view. As early as the eighteenth century, artists such as Richard Wilson ("Lake Nemi," 1760, private collection) and Joseph Wright of Derby ("Lake Nemi, Sunset," 1790, Musée du Louvre) had painted the scene from nearly the same spot. Inness created a strong composition by portraying the scene in the morning light and filling the foreground with the dark, strong silhouette of the near side of the steeply sloped lake shore. He rendered the far side of the lake and sky in lighter colors, producing the effect of a hazy distant view.

Etretat: 1875

In the foreground there is a lush green pasture with two figures walking along a path. On either side of them are cows and sheep, some seated and some grazing. In the distance there are the steep cliffs along the coast, with a rough sea below dotted with boats. Dark storm clouds are visible overhead.

Eventually Inness' art evidenced the influence of the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg. Of particular interest to Inness was the notion that everything in nature had a in a sense a correspondence relationship with something spiritual and so received an "influx" from God in order to continually exist.

Another influence upon 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 1885, 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 (October, 1886, a profound and dramatic juxtaposition of sky and earth (Early Autumn, Montclair, 1888), an emphasis on the intimate landscape view (Sunset in the Woods, 1891), and an increasingly personal, spontaneous, and often violent handling of paint.

October: 1886

Inness apparently cared very little about the titles of his paintings. It is possible that many were titled by the executors of his estate and organizers of his memorial exhibition and that some of his works were even signed and dated after his death. During the early twentieth century dealers often gave to his paintings what they felt were more poetic titles.

When listed in the catalogue of the executor's sale, this painting was entitled Near My Studio, Milton and dated 1882. Its similarity in technique and motif to paintings of 1882, such as June (Brooklyn Museum), does seem greater than its resemblance to most paintings of 1886.

The painting's most striking feature, its firm structure of horizontal and vertical elements and their careful balance, might on the one hand seem to favor the later dating, since this principle of synthetic composition is strongest in the works of the artist's final ten years. On the other hand, this concept first seems to emerge as a governing principle in his paintings of 1882.

The painting's very deliberate structure was advanced for 1882 and even 1886 and may be considered among the earliest works organized according to such a conspicuously geometrical scheme. It is cut into equal quadrants by the horizon halfway up the picture surface and the central vertical line of the gap in the trees and its corresponding reflection halfway across the surface. The trees are arranged at measured intervals to add a rhythm to this balance. It is noteworthy; however, that Inness shortened the tall tree above, perhaps to avoid the monotony of too close a symmetry.

Early Autumn, Montclair: 1888

Early Autumn, Montclair 1891

The Clouded Sun: 1891

It is this last quality in particular which distinguishes Inness from those painters of like sympathies who are characterized as Luminists.

In a published interview, Inness maintained that "The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist's own spiritual nature." His abiding interest in spiritual and emotional considerations did not preclude Inness from undertaking a scientific study of color, nor a mathematical, structural approach to composition: "The poetic quality is not obtained by eschewing any truths of fact or of Nature...Poetry is the vision of reality."

Inness died while in Scotland in 1894. According to his son, he was viewing the sunset, when he threw up his hands into the air and exclaimed, "My God! oh, how beautiful!", fell to the ground, and died minutes later.

A Bit of Roman Aqueduct: ca 1852

A Breezy Autumn: 1887

A Gray Lowery Day: ca 1877

A Passing Shower: 1860


Along the Jersey Shore: ca 1891

Autumn: 1859

Baberini, Italy: ca 1873

Berkshire Hills: ca 1846-47

California: 1894

Castel Gandolfo: 1874

Clearing Up: 1860

Coast Scene: ca 1857

Cromwell's Bridge: 1875

Early Moonrise Florida
(aka Early Morning Florida: 1908)

George Inness attempted to reconcile the poetry of nature with what he actually saw. He strongly believed that art must not imitate objective appearances. His early landscapes were inspired by the Hudson River School and the seventeenth-century classic landscapes of Claude Lorrain. And his later landscapes are hazy evocations of nature, suggestive of his spiritual approach.

Between 1891 and 1894, Inness and his wife Elizabeth spent winters in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Shortly before his death, he produced a number of important works, among them Early Moonrise, Florida. The Museum's painting was created on his third visit to the state. It depicts the passage of the season and the movement of time through moisture-laden mists and vapors. The evening sky is filled with clouds of pink, blue, and mauve, which cluster low on the horizon and reflect the last pastel hues of the setting sun. A luminous moon shines from a bare patch of sky framed by tall, thin trees. Inness's works in general are the fullest expression of his devotion to the religious teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who believed that the earthly realm is a conduit for the heavenly one. In his late paintings, nature is suffused with spirituality.

Early Morning Tarpon Springs: 1892

During the final years of his life, George Inness and his family spent their summers in Tarpon Springs on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Although his health was failing, Inness continued to paint in Florida and produced some of his most subtle, evocative work there. The Home of the Heron was inspired by the marshy landscape and seemingly endless sunsets of the South, and its spare composition captures the artist's modern sensibilities. Inness's spiritual beliefs, the guiding force of his work, are also evident in this canvas.

If Catskill Mountains represents the early stages of Inness's integration of Swedenborgian Theological Themes into his art through the spare use of symbolic color, The Home of the Heron exhibits his spirituality and artistic style. Inness's use of atmospheric devices such as haze and mist to blur boundaries between earth and sky, treetops and clouds, unites the various landscape elements. Although he did not use any explicit Swedenborgian symbols in this painting, the seamless blending of the composition does suggest one of the religion's basic tenets: the unity and harmony of the universe reflects God's presence. By adopting modes of abstraction to convey spiritual associations, Inness successfully conveyed the otherworldliness of the Florida marsh at sunset.

The Home of the Heron appears to be influenced by Asian sources as well, although Inness, unlike many of his contemporaries, did not collect Japanese prints or ink paintings. Inness balked when critics grouped him with the Impressionists, the group of artists most closely associated with the influence of Asian art, but he may have absorbed Eastern sources through his religious experiences. Swedenborg borrowed from eastern religions, particularly Buddhism and Daoism, when conceiving his theological philosophy and assimilated into his doctrine their ideas about the relationships between man, nature, and deity. The artist's use of thin, black washes of paint that resemble ink and spacious, spare compositions punctuated by a deeply sensitive feeling toward nature certainly correspond to Asian brush painting. They may also correlate with Swedenborg's theological teachings.

Inness's musical sensibilities are also apparent in this work. As Nicolai Cikovsky has suggested: "In paintings like The Home of the Heron, proportion and measure, size and interval, seem carefully determined and exactly plotted. . . . Although we know that Inness was interested in mathematics and numerology, this was mathematics internalized as an instinctive, almost musical sense of rhythmic relationship, cadenced order, and melodic line." Early modernist painters such as Wassily Kandinsky and Georgia O'Keefe would incorporate such musical correspondences and inspiration into their work as well; Inness is not so much their progenitor as their distant and fondly remembered cousin. Early Morning, Tarpon Springs, another late Florida painting, exhibits similar religious and musical qualities. This painting, however, is oriented vertically rather than horizontally, and the landscape clearly is one touched by humans. Inness accommodated and accentuated the tall, gangly trees in his composition and allowed them to dwarf the houses built in their shadows. The lone figure dwindles in comparison to nature, yet, like the trees that surround him, he is not overcome by his marshy surroundings. The overarching tone of the painting is serene and contemplative; the landscape strange and sublime, but not threatening.

Florida was a place Inness visited during the last years of his life, and the experience of aging may have inspired the wistful poetry of his works done there. Sunset and sunrise seem to have preoccupied the artist during these years, and these subjects suit the suffused tone of the paintings. By painting exotic landscapes during his final years, Inness may have been preparing himself for death and its mystery; indeed, aptly, The Home of the Heron was re-titled The Sun's Last Reflection in an 1895 memorial exhibition of Inness's late work. A less romantic, more pragmatic interpretation is that because the artist was under contract to produce paintings up to the time of his death, he was forced to keep hard at work. Whatever the case, Inness's body of late work exemplifies both his need to apprehend the spiritual through painting and his continued desire to succeed professionally.

The Home of the Heron: 1893

End of Day
(aka Montclair: 1855)

Etretat Normandy France: 1874-75

Etretat: ca 1874

Etretat Normandy: 1877

Evening: 1868

Evening Landscape: 1863

Fisherman in a Stream: 1857

From the Sawangunk Mountains: 1885

Georgia Pines Afternoon: 1886

Gray Day
(Goochland, Virgnia: 1884)

This work was drawn as much by concern for his health as for the natural attractions, Inness traveled frequently to the south, visiting Virginia in 1884. He made some of his finest late paintings on these trips, among them Gray Day, Goochland. The locations he chose were somewhat off the beaten path and not popular vacation spots. Goochland, west of Richmond and about a mile from the James River, was no more than a village whose chief attractions were the county courthouse and jail. Inness made only one visit to Goochland and stayed for three months. Why he chose this out-of-the way place is still a mystery. The timing of the visit, however, from January into mid March 1884, may reflect Inness's desire to avoid the fuss and strain of the opening of a large retrospective exhibition of his work at the American Art Galleries in New York.

Inness's southern sojourns coincided with the last phase of his career and his achievement of a mature style. His paintings from the mid 1880's until his death are characterized by an expressive, loose transcription of nature through broad paint application and subtle color and tonal effects. In Gray Day, Goochland, pearly grays and molten pinks warm what would otherwise be a bleak winter scene of an adult and child walking across a field toward a farmhouse nestled in a thin cluster of barren trees. On the one hand, the painting perfectly captures the cool, muted light and the damp but nippy atmosphere of a Virginia winter. Yet, at the same time, the blurred forms and deep, yet paradoxically indefinite space convey a sense of the ethereal.

Hackensack Meadows - Sunset: 1859

Harvest Scene in the Delaware Valley: 1867

Hillside at Etretet: 1876

Home at Montclair: 1892

This painting is a rare winter scene by Inness, representing the landscape near his home in Montclair, New Jersey. Although inspired by a real locale, Inness abstracted the scene to convey eternal qualities and the emotional poetry of nature through carefully constructed compositions, a nuanced palette, and subtle, transparent passages of paint.

In the Berkshires: ca 1848-50

Italian Landscape with Aqueduct: ca 1845-46

Kearsarge Village: 1875

Lake Albano: 1869

Lake Albano is a fine example of Inness's work at mid-career. A sweeping view of a lake 12 miles south of Rome, the landscape features groups of figures in fashionable clothing and rustic peasant costumes and shows in the background a section of Roman aqueduct, a castle, a tall stone pine, and a stand of cypress trees. Curiously, Lake Albano is dated 1869, the year before Inness returned to Italy to paint Italian views for an American market, so it may have been composed from the artist's stored memories of his Italian sojourns. Nevertheless, Lake Albano resonates with authenticity and charm.

The Italian countryside held a special attraction for Inness. Preferring what he later called "civilized landscape" to the wilderness, as a young artist he painted landscapes reflecting the classical tradition. As his style matured, tight drawing and idealized scenes gave way to broader handling and a greater sense of atmosphere, light, and the expressive qualities of nature.

Because of its feeling of vivid, first-hand observation, Lake Albano relates more closely to Inness's Italian paintings of the 1870's than to his earlier American scenes. Some of his most daring color effects and pictorial compositions are found in his Italian landscapes. Lake Albano also shares with the later paintings a smooth, polished surface achieved through luminous glazes, as well as some picturesque elements and experimental pictorial effects, for example, the open spaces on the left side of the composition. While retaining the tranquility and deep space of the classical tradition, Inness abandoned the enclosing framing devices he used in his early works. Though classical landscapes usually included a few figures, Inness expanded this formula here, enlarging the figure grouping to a large gathering of contemporary figures engaged in a variety of activities.

Landscape with Figure: 1878

Landscape with Pond: 1868

Landscape with Sheep: 1858

Late Afternoon: ca 1882

Medfield, Massachusetts: ca 1860-69

Midsummer: 1875

Monastery at Albano: ca 1875

Monte Lucia, Perugia: 1873

Moonlight - Tarpon Springs, Florida: 1892

A restless, habitual traveler his entire life, Inness made many extended painting trips to locations in the southern United States in the last decade of his career. He wintered regularly in Florida from 1887 until 1894, the year of his death. Inness painted many of his greatest late paintings on these trips, among them Moonlight, Tarpon Springs. The locations he chose were somewhat off the beaten path and not popular vacation spots. Tarpon Springs was a sleepy town on the Florida Gulf Coast that had experienced an influx of Greek sponge fishermen, but few of the tourists who vacationed in Florida visited that small coastal town. His trips to Tarpon Springs were part of Inness's pattern of wintering in rural locations away from the stress of the city and involved setting up a relatively permanent household and studio.

In Moonlight, Tarpon Springs and a number of related paintings, Inness avoided the sights most frequently sought out by artists visiting Florida-alligators, palm trees, and lush flowers. Instead, he focused on the subtler flavor and atmosphere of the northern Gulf Coast, which is known for its tall pine trees, causeways, and short, flat vistas. Moonlight, Tarpon Springs reverberates with spiritual intensity. In the painting, the moon and glow of a distant bonfire pick out details in an otherwise dark and shadowy landscape that Duncan Phillips poetically described as having "the warm sweet gloom of our fragrant pine groves of the south." A lone woman in a white kerchief, who serves as both a compositional anchor and poetic accent, enhances the mystery and magic of the night. The figure and atmospheric effects are also reminiscent of the work of the French Barbizon School, an early influence for Inness. As Phillips observed, Inness was "inspired by [his] themes…possessed and acted upon by his subjects." And, in his late works, painted during the travels of his last years, he reached new heights of expressive interpretation of nature through the sensitive manipulation of color, composition, and paint.

Morning: ca 1878

Morning Catskill Valley
(aka The Red Oaks): 1894

Near Perugia: ca 1874

Niagara: 1885

Niagara: 1889

North Conway, White Horse Ledge: ca 1875

October Noon: 1891

Passing Clouds Passing Shower: 1876

Pastoral Landscape At Sunset: 1884

Pompton Junction

River Landscape: ca 1866-68

Sacco Ford Conway Meadows: 1876

Spring: 1860

Saint Peter's Rome: 1857

Stormy Day: ca 1875-77

Summer Days, Cattle Drinking, Late Summer, Early Autumn: 1857

Summer Landscape: 1894

Summer - Montclair: 1887

Summer Montclair
(aka New Jersey Landscape): 1891

Hazy Morning Montclair, New Jersey: 1893

Since the beginning of Inness's artistic maturity, the appearance, inspiration, and expressive effect of his paintings was most frequently described as poetic. And as, over time, the style of his paintings became increasingly more suggestive, as their form became broader and their resemblance's to natural appearance less and less direct, their poetic content seemed to grow in direct proportion, reaching its highest and purest state in paintings of the last few years of his life. Painted the year before Inness's death, Hazy Morning, Montclair, New Jersey is one of those late poetic paintings. The allusiveness of its style, with all solid form blurred, corroded, and reduced to a pervasive vaporous substance more metaphysical than physical in nature-"a subtle essence which exists in all things of the material world" that constitutes "an atmosphere about the bald detail of facts,"-could be regarded as a logical development and climax of Inness's lifelong belief in the value of spiritual meaning, emotional expression, and suggestion: "You must suggest to me reality-you can never show me reality." Inness, however, disclaimed poetic vagueness unequivocally: "Poetry is the vision of reality ... not some gaseous representation.... What is often called poetry is a mere jingle of rhyme-intellectual dish-water. The poetic quality is not obtained by eschewing any truths of fact or of Nature which can be included in a harmony or real representation." To Inness the poetic representation of reality consisted in the same facts of nature as reality itself: color, distance, air, space, and contrasts of light and dark.

Sundown: 1894

Sundown near Montclair: 1885

Sunset at Etretat: 1875

Sunset: ca 1860-65

Sunset on a Meadow


Sunset over the Sea

Trained in the realistic conventions of the Hudson River school, George Inness slowly evolved a highly expressive and original manner after the Civil War and turned to suggestive, non topographical landscapes. In late works like Sunset over the Sea, Inness achieved a coloristic and expressive unity that stepped further away from objective reality. The image is divided into two registers, sea and sky, rendered in hazes of pigment that mimic the shifting state of air, water, and light in nature. Sea birds riding the currents of air above the waves in the foreground, which is bathed in an eerie light, undoubtedly bore a spiritual message for the artist, an ardent follower of the Swedenborgian faith.

The Coming Storm: 1878

The Coming Storm
(aka Approaching Storm): 1893

The Commencement of the Galleria
(aka Rome the Appian Way): 1870

The Deleware Water Gap: ca 1861-66

This is a description of an earlier depiction (ca 1855) of the same painting.

The train on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad, completed in 1855, steams towards us, in contrast to the raft moving slowly upstream. The view is from the Pennsylvania shore of the Delaware River. The further shore is in New Jersey. In the distance is the Gap, through which the Delaware cuts into the Kittatinny Mountains. This picture is the first of several versions of this subject by the artist.

The Gloaming: 1875

The Pasture: 1870

The Pequonic, New Jersey: 1877

The Perugian Valley: 1873

The Storm: 1876

The Storm: 1885

The Sun Shower: 1847

The Trout Brook: 1891

The Valley: ca 1874

Twilight: 1875

Valley Near Perugia: ca 1867

Visionary Landscape: ca 1876-79

Washing Day near Perugia
(aka Italian Washerwomen): 1873

Winter Morning Montclair: 1882

Woodland Scene

Crossing the Ford: 1848

Over the River

Summer Foliage: 1883

In 1878, Inness settled permanently in Montclair, New Jersey, where for 16 years he painted the intimate, tranquil reaches of his estate. Like the Barbizon painters of 30 years before, Inness charged these landscape views with personal, emotional significance. The modest, beautiful canvases of this period reflect the material and spiritual well-being of the artist's most successful years. The exploration of color and the shifting effects of light in "Summer Foliage" suggest the influence of the impressionists, despite Inness's dismissal of that movement as ideologically wrongheaded. Many of the Montclair scenes from this period share these characteristics.

View of Rome from Tivoli: 1872

A prime ambition of many American artists of the nineteenth century was to make a pilgrimage to Italy to absorb the artistic traditions of the classical and Renaissance past. For landscape painters, this sojourn also offered the opportunity to paint the moods and seasons of the Italian countryside. Inness arrived in Italy in 1870 on his second trip, which would last four years. Based in Rome, he traveled extensively throughout the surrounding region, visiting lakes and hill towns. The nearly two hundred recorded paintings from this trip are ample evidence of its powerful effect on his life. Despite its descriptiveness, the title "View of Rome from Tivoli" is something of a misnomer; in fact, the city on the hill resembles Tivoli more than it does Rome. Inness's landscape is carefully composed to lead the viewer's eye from the portal of the monastery tower in the foreground down along the low stone fence descending into the left corner of the painting. Inness has masterfully captured the atmospheric haze that causes the deep background to shimmer under soft pink and blue-gray sky. The artist was more concerned with a sense of place than with identifiable locations. When asked about the sites depicted in his work, Inness once replied that they represented "nowhere in particular; do you suppose I illustrated guidebooks?" His testy response calls attention to the dilemma facing landscape artists - whether to satisfy the demand for souvenirs of places visited or imagined by patrons or to serve the artist's purpose of painting a generalized aspect of a place. In "View of Rome from Tivoli," Inness's focus on the timeless quality of daily life supplants the need for a more specific reading of the landscape."

Source: Art Renewal Center

Source: George Inness Online

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