Real and Ideal

Inness and the Berkshires

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Clark Art Institute

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Home The Berkshires as a Modern Arcadia Real and Ideal Spirituality in the Everyday Inness's Berkshire Patrons
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Inness visited popular summer destinations like the Berkshires throughout his career, gathering raw material for his paintings. Although he studied nature closely, his goal was rarely to depict a precise location but rather to depict "nature, rendered grand," emphasizing conceptual ideals more than realistic description. When once asked where a picture was painted, Inness responded, "Nowhere in particular; do you suppose I illustrate guide books?" In his early career Inness often adopted compositional formulas inspired particularly by the French artist Claude Lorrain (1604-1682), while his later paintings increasingly reflected the spiritualist ideology of the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).