In the 1880s, the American artist George Inness (1825–1894) developed his signature style: painting softly modeled, ethereal landscapes that sought to evoke a mood or atmosphere. These pictures were grounded in reality, many of them inspired by the countryside near the artist's home in Montclair, New Jersey. Yet Inness sought to go beyond the limits of realistic representation to express the spiritual essence of the natural world. Inspired by the writings of the eighteenth-century Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, Inness struggled to represent, as he put it, the “great spiritual principle of harmony—harmony in form, harmony in color, the general harmony arising from the relation of things to one another.”
This exhibition celebrates the Clark's recent acquisition of eight late paintings by Inness, the gift of Frank and Katherine Martucci of New York. Together with the two canvases acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark in 1946 and 1955, these magnificent landscapes demonstrate how Inness experimented with color, composition, and painterly technique in an attempt to present a vision of the natural world that transcends its physical appearance.