In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: George Inness, “Evening Glow.”

Collectors will be excited to hear of the latest opportunity to own a stunning original from one of America’s most influential 19th-century painters, George Inness (1825-1894). During a career that spanned more than 40 years and over 1,000 paintings, Inness evolved his style between realism and impressionism. Even so, critics always maintained that Inness’ pictures were powerful and highly successful efforts to elicit depth of mood, atmosphere, and emotion.

Born in Newburgh, New York, in 1825, Inness was already cultivating his artistic talent by 1839, when he studied for several months under the tutelage of painter John Jesse Barker. Through the 1840s, Inness continued his studies in a range of opportunities, including as a map engraver, apprentice under Régis François Gignoux, and at the National Academy of Design (NAD). It was at the NAD that Inness first encountered works by artists of the Hudson River School, which had an immediate and lasting impact on the young painter. Early works by Inness clearly display his love for Asher Durand and Thomas Cole, among others. Tightly rendered and often depicting deep, receding spaces, Inness’ young works were clearly of an academic and realist tradition.

George Inness, “Evening Glow,” 1883, oil on canvas, 22 x 36 in. (c) Heritage Auctions 2016
George Inness, “Evening Glow,” 1883, oil on canvas, 22 x 36 in. (c) Heritage Auctions 2016

As the artist grew, so too did his work, becoming ever more atmospheric, experimental, expressive, and impressionistic. Although he would never fully commit to either full abstraction or realism, Inness’ works display a compelling range of creativity that continues to intrigue scholars and connoisseurs today.

A stunning original by Inness heads to the auction block via Heritage Auctions on November 12. Reading more like a J.M.W. Turner than a Thomas Cole, “Evening Glow” is an atmospheric and moody masterpiece. According to Heritage, “‘Evening Glow’ marks a turning point in Inness’ career and stands as one of his first and finest ‘aesthetic’ paintings. Prior to this watershed moment, during the early 1880s, Inness specialized in two types of paintings: plein air pastorals and figure paintings. In 1883, he abruptly abandoned these genres in favor of the ‘aesthetic style,’ which had been popularized by James Abbott McNeill Whistler in London and was gaining traction in the U.S. among such figure painters as Thomas Wilmer Dewing and William Merritt Chase.”

Within “Evening Glow,” a soft orange glow blankets the canvas. In a painting set — as its title suggests — during the waning hours of the day, a lone figure solemnly walks toward the viewer. Although a few details can be deciphered — birds dotting the sky, a lone tree and haystacks — the overall impression of the painting is hazy with soft edges and earthy hues. It is dated to 1883, just when Inness was making his stylistic turn, and auction estimates are between $120,000 and $180,000.

To learn more, visit Heritage Auctions.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.



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