Inness Paintings Reproduction and Biography
George Inness, born near Newburgh, New York, 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.
Around 1841, Inness received a month’s instruction from John Jesse Barker, a painter living in Newark, New Jersey, where the Inness family had moved in 1829. From the age of sixteen, Inness served a two-year apprenticeship as an engraver with the New York mapmaking firm of Sherman and Smith. Inness took some instruction in painting from Régis Gignoux about 1843, around the time he was studying and being influenced by prints of the paintings of Claude Lorrain and the seventeenth-century Dutch landscape masters. Inness was also seeing the paintings of the leading Hudson River School painters - particularly that of Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand - whose style is recalled in some of his early paintings.
Inness exhibited for the first time at the National Academy of Design in 1844 and continued to exhibit there almost every year until the end of his life. Though Inness was elected an Associate of the Academy in 1853, he was not made an Academician until 1868. Inness was one of the important early members of the Society of American Artists, an exhibition organization founded in 1877 to challenge the conservative policies of the Academy.
By the late 1840s, Inness was exhibiting regularly in New York and had attracted a patron, Ogden Haggerty. Inness married Elizabeth Hart in 1850, and the following February the couple departed for a fifteen-month stay in Italy made possible by Haggerry’s financial support. On their way home, they stopped in Paris, where Inness visited an exhibition that included paintings by the Barbizon painter Théodore Rousseau; after a second trip abroad, in 1853-54, the paintings of Rousseau and other Barbizon painters exerted a strong influence on Inness’s art.
Inness and his family left New York in 1860, moving first to Medfield, Massachusetts, and later to an estate near Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In the early 1860s, fellow artist William Page introduced Inness to the theories of Emanuel Swedenborg, which made a deep and lasting impression on him; indeed, became a major force in his intellectual life. Throughout that decade, spent in rural surroundings, Inness sought to make his paintings convey the profound spiritual meaning he felt the landscape around him possessed.
In 1870, the Innesses moved to Italy for four years, during which time the artist sent back paintings to be sold by the Boston dealers Williams and Everett, receiving in exchange regular monthly payments. Stopping again in Paris on the way back to the United States, in 1874, Inness first saw paintings by the Impressionists in an exhibition he visited, but he thought little of that new style of painting.
In 1878, Inness’s fortunes improved when Thomas B. Clarke, a prominent New York art dealer, became his agent. Inness took a studio in the New York University Building and bought a house and studio in Montclair, New Jersey. His theories on painting were published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in 1878 and 1882; in 1882, Charles De Kay, under the pseudonym Henry Eckford, wrote an important critical article about his paintings.
Two years later, a major exhibition of Inness paintings was sponsored by John E Sutton, proprietor of the American Art Association, from which Inness emerged as the leading light in American landscape painting, an eminent position he enjoyed for the rest of his career. During the last years of his life, Inness spent summers traveling and painting in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and Florida.
He and his wife returned to Europe in 1894, when Inness once again visited Paris, as well as Baden-Baden and Munich. On his way home, Inness died of a stroke in the Bridge of Allan, a small Scottish resort village. On 23 August 1894, the National Academy of Design held an impressive funeral service for Inness, who was by then one of its most illustrious members.