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George Inness

(1825 - 1894)

American landscape painter George Inness was one of the most important members of the “Hudson River School” of painting. Greatly influenced by the French school of landscape painting, his visionary landscapes challenge the viewer to observe the mystical wonders in nature.

George Inness was born on May 1, 1825, in Newburgh, New York, the son of a grocer. Plagued by epilepsy during his childhood, he received little formal education. His family moved to Newark, New Jersey, when he was a young boy, and by the time he had reached his teens, he was studying with painter John Jesse Barker while working as an engraver for a map-making firm.

In 1843, Inness moved to New York City to study under landscape painter Regis Francois Ginoux. He exhibited his work at the National Academy of Design and the American Art-Union over the next few years, and in1845, he opened his own art studio. Although mainly influenced by the Hudson River School, he painted with a more gestural technique than other artists.

When George Inness was in his early twenties, Ogden Haggerty (a patron) sponsored his trip to Europe in order for him to study and paint. He traveled to Italy in 1851, and was deeply touched by the country’s natural beauty. From 1853 to 1854, he studied French Barbizon landscape painting in Paris. It was the radical and broadly conceived paintings of Theodore Rousseau that captivated him. The Barbizon-style of painting which uses loose brushwork and places an emphasis on mood became part of the artist’s tools to create the luminous and atmospheric landscapes that eventually established his trademark.

During the 1850’s, Inness was commissioned by the Delawar, Lackawanna and Western Railroads to portray the progress of DLWRR's growth in early Industrial America. In 1854 his son George was born, a child who would grow to love and share his father’s passion for painting.

George Inness and his family settled in the suburban Boston town of Medfield, where he remained for five years and created some of his best paintings, one being ‘The Medfield Meadows’. In 1864, he moved to Eagleswood, New Jersey, and was introduced to the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg. He was influenced by the Swedenborgian ideas which were meant to explore the Divine aspects of Creation, supporting the notion that nature and the spiritual world were intricately connected. His works embodied that sentiment, and were increasingly allusive and almost mystical in character. Memorable pieces from this period include ‘Rainbow after a Storm’ (1869) and ‘The Afterglow’ (1878).

During his life time, George Inness made many trips, residing in Italy from 1870 to 1874, then in France in 1875, and returning to America in 1876. He settled in Montclair, New Jersey where he lived out the rest of his years. The talented artist died on a trip to Scotland at Bridge of Allan on August 3, 1894. Always the perfectionist, his studio was found full of experimental canvases.

Movements associated with George Inness:
19th century, American artists, Hudson river school


Art prints by George Inness
The Coming Storm


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