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George Inness

All Artists | 1825–1894 | Newburgh, New York

American artists like George Inness, Ralph Blakelock, and Alexander Wyant were part of a group of artists called “Tonalists.” Arising shortly after the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Tonalism found within ordinary landscapes a sense of eternal values that endured beyond war and the financial panics of the era. Tonalist paintings were usually relatively small in scale, with an emphasis on tones of paint colors, primarily those considered “low” in tone.

Though Inness sketched outside, he rarely moved into the studio to paint directly from a new sketch. Sketching was simply a way of building up a memory of his experiences, his feelings, while in nature. When the time for painting arrived, he valued his emotional memory over any direct experience he might have just had.