Shannon's Fine Art Auctioneers

Description: GEORGE INNESS
American, (1825-1894)
"Light Triumphant," 1862
oil on canvas
signed and dated lower right "G. Inness 1862"

  • Provenance: The artist; the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher; by descent to Mrs. H.B. Beecher; James P. Silo Auctioneer, February 13-14, 1896, lot 164; Senator Frederick S. Gibbs, New York, by 1899; American Art Association, New York [Gibbs Sale], February 24-26, 1904, lot 226; with Scott & Fowles, New York, purchased at auction, 1904; Alexander R. Peacock, Pittsburgh; American Art Association, New York [Peacock Sale], January 10, 1922, lot 6; with Scott & Fowles, New York,1922; C.C. Stillman, New York, New York, 1924; Sotheby's, New York, New York, April 11, 2013, lot 52; Private Collection, Alabama.
  • Dimensions: 11 x 18 inches
  • Artist Name: GEORGE INNESS
  • Exhibited: New York, New York, National Academy of Design, "37th Annual Exhibition, 1862," no. 19, as "Landscape," lent by the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher (possibly).
  • Literature: "The Academy of Design, Second Notice, The Large Room" in "The Evening Post" (New York, April 17, 1862), p. 1; Clara Clement and Laurence Hutton, "Artists of the Nineteenth Century and Their Works," vol. 1, (Boston: Houghton, Osgood and Company, [1879], 1884), p.382; "The Private Collection of Frederick S. Gibbs," (New York, 1899), no. 111, p. 65; Kirk D. Henry, "an American Patron of American Art," in "Brush and Pencil 8," no. 4 (July 1901): 212, 217, 214 (illustrated); R.H.Gabriel, ed., "Pageant of America," vol. 3 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1926), p. 71, fig. 139; LeRoy Ireland, "Works of George Inness," (Austin: Texas University Press, 1965), p. 59, no. 240; Eugene Taylor, "The Interior Landscape: George Inness and William James on Art from a Swedenborgian Point of View," in "Archives of American Art Journal 37," nos. 1 and 2 (1997): 3; Michael Quick, "George Inness: A Cataogue RaisonnĂ©," (New Brunswick and London: Rutgers University Press, 2007), vol. 1, p. 216, no. 184 (illustrated).
    ---
    George Inness was a highly prolific artist during his long career. For fifty years, from 1844-1894, he exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Although associated with the Hudson River School and the group of Tonalists, Inness changed his styles throughout his career, keeping up with leading artistic trends. He said of himself, "I have changed from the time I commenced because I had never completed my art and as I do not care about being cake, I shall remain dough subject to any impression which I am satisfied comes from the region of truth."1

    He readily experimented with new styles and embraced new trends, visible in each era of his work. Throughout, he infused his paintings with a sense of philosophical and spiritual qualities that set him apart. Inness' paintings from the 1860s reflect an interest in the religious theories of Emanuel Swedenborg, who believed that all material things were imbued with a spiritual presence. It was also at this time in the late 50s and early 60s that Inness' work most resembled that of the Hudson River School artists.

    During this period, and as seen in the present lot, " Light Triumphant", Inness' focused on the effects of light on the landscape. He was less concerned with accurate details, and his technique softened and his brushstrokes were much broader. Michael Quick notes in his catalog of this painting, "Its first owner was the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, who is said to have suggested this title for Inness's major effort of the period, Light Triumphant, 1861. Beecher's taste in Inness's work apparently was for landscapes with an active, transforming light effect, a direction he probably encouraged during the Medfield period, when his influence on Inness was strong."2

    Although the overall impression of this work is a landscape painting, there are details that reveal themselves to an attentive viewer. A farmhouse tucked among the elm trees, a church spire in the distance, and a single figure seated in the foreground. The light is coming from the center of the canvas as if the sun is rising behind the house, bringing life to the quiet scene.

    Inness was born near Newburgh, New York in 1825. He spent most of his childhood in Newark, New Jersey. After an apprenticeship working for an engraver, Inness studied at the National Academy of Design from 1843-1847 with Regis Francois Gignoux (see lot 48). In 1851, he made a fifteen month trip to Italy (see lot 82), and then a shorter visit in France. He returned to America moving to New York from 1854-1859. He then moved briefly to Massachusetts and back to New Jersey before finally returning to New York in 1867.

    In 1868, Inness was elected a full member of the National Academy. He returned to Italy for another sojourn from 1871-1875 and continued to travel up until his death in Scotland in 1894. A public funeral was held in New York at the National Academy as was an exhibition of his paintings.
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    1 Michael Quick, "George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonne," (New Jersey: Rutgers University, 2007), p. 1.
    2 Quick, p. 216.
    ---
    Framed dimensions: 15 1/2 x 22 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches

    tags: oil painting, listed artist, landscape, 19th century
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Condition: in overall good condition; old wax lining; fine crazing in the center; minor scattered restoration mostly in the sky; a 4-inch thin line repair along bottom edge, likely to cover frame abrasion; additional UV photos available upon request

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Milford, CT, US

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