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George Inness, Taking a Walk

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Inness, George 1825–94, American landscape painter, b. Newburgh, N.Y. His father intended Inness to be a grocer, but he showed artistic talent at an early age and was apprenticed to an engraver. In 1845 he opened a studio in New York City, devoting himself to painting, and two years later with a friend's aid was able to go to Rome. He made a subsequent visit to Rome in 1851, and in 1854 he and his wife went to Paris. On their return they settled in Medfield, Mass. There Inness painted many of his best-known canvases. In later life he enjoyed a high reputation, maintaining studios in New York City and in Montclair, N.J., where most of his last 20 years were spent.

The early work of Inness is in the manner of the Hudson River school. His panoramic Peace and Plenty (Metropolitan Mus.) is characteristic of this period. But in a short time he discovered his own personal style, which became simplified, freer, more intimate, and richer in color. In the landscapes of the 1880s and 90s, edges frequently dissolve into the air, merging in a painterly haze. In these later works his subjects, covering a wide range of light effects, became a vehicle for the expression of a romantic mood. Inness was a Swedenborgian and consistently sought the mystical in nature. Among his principal works are Rainbow after a Storm and Millpond (Art Inst., Chicago); Delaware Valley, Autumn Oaks, and Evening—Medfield, Mass. (Metropolitan Mus.); June (1882; Brooklyn Mus., N.Y.); and Georgia Pines and Niagara (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.). Many of his other works are in the collection of the Montclair Art Museum. Inness died in Scotland.

Used with permission. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press