George Inness, American Painting, Winter

A Winter Sky, by George Inness

Submitted by Christine Edmonson on

These first few days of snow remind me of this brilliant winter sunset by George Inness (American, 1825-1894). Though not on view now, we can at least see Winter Sky here on the Museum website collection (1927.388). Isn't it a beauty? My winters in eastern Pennsylvania looked like this, complete with Canada geese flying in formation. Mark Cole directed me to this landscape last winter, and I find its setting sun and reflective clouds magical in their frozen landscape. 

A Hudson River School artist, Inness softened his painting technique in later years, displaying what Mark describes as a "more passionate style of brushwork." And it is -- look how the dark areas slip into the whites and blues of winter evening, yet rimmed in glow. Inness pursued his art, "painting at white heat" to find the meeting of material and heavenly realms. His son, George Inness, Jr. (1854-1926), describes him best, painting at their shared studio in the old Booth Theater at Broadway and Sixth Avenue:

"With a few deft touches he had suggested several sheep in the foreground.The whole picture was dark and tonal. But the dull-red house of the original composition still stood out incongruously in the new. He stepped back several paces and looked at it; then with a dash he slapped in a mass of yellow ocher over the house, and with two or three sweeps of the brush had transformed the old red structure into a vibrant twilight sky. All the rest was dark and in perfect tone. With that supreme stroke he struck the accidental, and pushed the harmony almost to discord, and the finished canvas stood before us a masterpiece."