The Exhibition
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George Inness, Summer, Montclair (New Jersey Landscape), 1891. Oil on canvas. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Martucci
George Inness (1825–1894) criticized much art of his day for its "skeptical scientific tendency to ignore the reality of the unseen." His own late paintings were not literal transcriptions of nature but evocations of spiritual truth. One painter friend provided a key to Inness's Eventide, Tarpon Springs, Florida: "He who would know its profundities must sit with it, dream with it, and so he shall come to know that true art bears a message to the Soul of man." This is good counsel for each work here. The friend described Eventide as "breathed upon the canvas," emphasizing the apparent ease of the picture's realization, though Inness often scraped and repainted his canvases. Vision, not surface, was important. As Inness's son wrote of the late paintings: "They are done with art, not paint. They are not mere representations of things or nature; they are the soul of the master as he takes us with him in spirit. . . . His great regret was that he was limited to paint. ‘If only I could paint it without paint!' was his lament."
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