In the Gloaming
Oil on canvas
Gift of Clement S. Houghton; P.948.44
George Inness grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and received early artistic training with Régis-François Gignoux. He initially painted pastoral American and Italian scenery in the classical Claudian tradition, but his two-year stay in Europe beginning in 1853 exposed him to the more subdued, atmospheric landscapes associated with the French Barbizon school. As a result, he adopted freer brushwork and sought out more intimate, non-topographic bits of rustic scenery as painting subjects. This work dates from Inness’s fruitful late years, during which he painted the rural environs of Montclair, New Jersey, and pushed his Barbizon tendencies toward a more expressive style. In an unconventional manner, he rubbed broad swaths of pigment into the canvas and scratched through other areas of heavy pigment, probably with the tip of a brush handle, to create swirling indented lines (“All over the canvas, rub, rub, dig, scratch,” observed critic Elliott Daingerfield of this idiosyncratic process). Typical of Inness’s work of this period, In the Gloaming exhibits a subdued palette and rich layers of glazing, which produce an effect of enveloping mist that almost obscures form. Although Inness clearly concerned himself with the effects of light and atmosphere, he scorned the analytic approach of his impressionist contemporaries. His poetic canvases reflect instead an intensely personal, even mystical exploration of the larger significance of the landscape. Like many artists of his and later generations (including Willard Metcalf), Inness took a keen interest in spiritualism, particularly the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Although his complex Swedenborgian beliefs are not explicit in his iconography, Inness attempted to convey the continuity between the material and spiritual realms through his art. In this work the figures and forms almost dissolve in their mysterious twilight world, transcending physicality to appear as vague recollections.
Last Updated: 5/13/09