George Inness, Jr. was born in Paris while his parents, the famed landscape painter George Inness and his wife Elizabeth Hart were on a trip abroad. His father became George Jr.'s most important teacher and influence, even though initially, George Jr. resisted his father's style and instead became well known and respected as a painter of animals, particularly cattle. The Jan. 11, 1878 New York Evening Post commented that George Jr. "is sure to make his mark as an animal painter because he understands the science of his art and the spirit of his brutes."
George Jr. began his painterly studies with his father in Rome and then in the late 1870's they shared a studio in New York City. However, in an effort to create his own style, in the 1880's George Jr. went to California as an illustrator of big game hunts for New York magazine publishers. (He is pictured above in 1889, the year his art was awarded a prestigious Gold Medal at the highly successful Paris World Fair. Incidentally, the central attraction at that fair was the Eiffel Tower.)
In 1894, George Sr. died. and George Jr. returned to Paris where he opened a studio and became a regular in the artistic world there until 1900, when he returned to the United States and with his wife bought an estate in Ulster County, NY, on the Hudson River north of New York City.
However, even in death his father continued his influence on his son's work, this time (as George Jr. described it) through a vision in which his father said that in the future, George Jr. should concentrate on religious subjects. Indeed, with time, he like his father produced lush landscapes suffused with spiritual light, reflecting their shared spiritual inclinations.
In a small undated pamphlet entitled It Is the Only Hope, Inness wrote about being commanded to create one of his paintings (unspecified), "Then I'll have you paint, but in so mysterious a way that at first the viewer sees almost a blank so lacking shall the picture be, in startling effects. But as the gazer looks he will see the sun rising in the east and it will grow and sparkle into life and cast its rays above until the very heavens are aglow ... and by suggestion you shall awaken the imagination and as the light seems to grow, one will discern within the sun, The Christ, spreading the light of love through the world."
This post is # 34 of the 75 stories to celebrate HMA's 75 years.
Post written by former HMA Project Coordinator, Karin Borei.