George Inness


Armnad Cabrera

George Inness was born in 1825 on a farm just outside of Newburgh New York on the Hudson River. His father was a successful grocer and just after Inness was born the family moved to New York city and then again four years later to Newark New Jersey. It was here Inness received his education and discovered his interest in art.

In 1839 at the age of 15 his father bought him a grocery store to manage but Inness had decided to pursue painting and his father reluctantly paid for art lessons. His first teacher was John Jesse Barker. Inness then studied engraving for two years in New York City. He studied painting for a year with French Artist Regis Francois Gignaux and attended classes at the National Academy of Design.

In 1849 Inness opened his own studio in New York. He also married Delia Miller who died just a few months after the wedding. He remarried Elizabeth Abigail Hart a year later and the couple would have 6 children together.

In 1851 a patron sent Inness to Europe for fifteen months. He rented a studio in Rome and studied the old masters and painted. It was probably here he became interested in to the philosophy of  Swedenborgianism which held all things in nature had a spiritual relationship with God and that an artist’s perspective is influenced by this experience.

His work became more ethereal in his later years using his memory and painting with a softer more emotional intent. His later work transcends the natural world touching on the poetic and sublime.

He was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1853 and became a full Academician in 1868.

Inness had a retrospective show of his work in 1884 and he won a gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition. George Innis died in 1894 in Scotland after watching a sunset.


Inness landscapes

Alfred Werner

Watson Guptill Publications 1973

Quote: The true purpose of the painter is simply to reproduce in other minds the impression which a scene has made upon him. A work of art is not to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion. Its real greatness consists in the quality and force of this emotion.

George Inness Quotes on Art

by Armand Cabrera
Most of these quotes come from the Inness biography Life, Art,and Letters Of George Innes which was written by his son in 1917
Details in the picture must be elaborated only fully enough to produce the impression that the artist wishes to produce. When more than this is done, the impression is weakened or lost, and we see simply an array of external things which may be very cleverly painted, and may look very real, but which do not make an artistic painting. The effort and the difficulty of the artist is to combine the two, namely to make the thought clear and to preserve the unity of impression.
Art is the endeavor on the part of the Mind (Mind being the creative factor) to express through the senses ideas of the great principles of unity

The over love of knowing is a chronic trouble with artists, and produces in their works the appearance of effort and labor instead of that freedom which is the life of truth.

Knowledge must bow to Spirit

The greatness of art is not in the display of knowledge, or in material accuracy, but in the distinctness with which it conveys the impressions of a personal vital force, that acts spontaneously, without fear or hesitation.

We are all the subjects of impressions, and some of us seek to convey the impressions to others. In the art of communicating impressions lies the power of generalizing without losing the logical connection of parts to the whole which satisfies the mind.

Never put anything on your canvas that isn’t of any use; never use a detail unless it means something.

You can only achieve something if you have an ambition so powerful as to forget yourself. 

A picture without passion has no meaning and it would be far better had it never been painted.

Let us believe in Art, not as something to gratify or suit commercial ends, but something to be loved and cherished because it is the handmaid of the spiritual life of the age.