George Inness (1825-1894)
George Inness (1825-1894)

Light Triumphant

George Inness (1825-1894)
Light Triumphant
signed and dated ‘Geo. Inness 1861’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
26 x 36 in. (66 x 91.5 cm.)
Painted in 1861.
E.T.H. Gibson, Brooklyn, New York, 1862.
Mrs. E.T.H. Gibson, Brooklyn, New York, by 1864.
Private collection, Chicago, Illinois, and New York, by 1917.
By descent to the present owner.
“The Academy of Design, Second Notice, The Large Room,” The Evening Post, New York, April 17, 1862, p. 1.
“Fine Arts: Academy of Design,” The World, New York, April 26, 1862, p. 6.
“The Lounger: The National Academy, No. II,” Harper’s Weekly, vol. 6, no. 280, May 10, 1862, p. 290.
Proteus, “National Academy of Design: Second Article,” New York Commercial Advertiser, May 22, 1862, p. 1.
H.T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, New York, 1867, p. 531.
“American Painters.- George Inness,” The Art Journal, New Series, vol. 2, 1876, pp. 84-85, engraving illustrated.
“The Works of George Inness,” The Art Journal, New Series, vol. XVI, 1877, pp. 110-11, engraving illustrated.
G.W. Sheldon, American Painters, New York, 1878, pp. 30-31, 35, engraving illustrated.
E.W. Marble, “George Inness Paintings,” Boston Evening Transcript, April 14, 1884, p. 6.
“Mr. Inness’s Pictures,” New York Commercial Advertiser, April 16, 1884, p. 3.
J.G. Wilson, J. Fiske, eds., Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. 3, New York, 1888, p. 353.
W. Montgomery, ed., American Art and American Art Collections, vol. 2, Boston, Massachusetts, 1889, pp. 777, 779, 784, engraving illustrated.
R. Muther, The History of Modern Painting, vol. 4, London, 1896, pp. 315-16.
G. Inness, Jr., Life, Art, and Letters of George Inness, New York, 1917, pp. 37, 244-45, engraving illustrated.
N. Cikovsky, Jr., The Life and Work of George Inness, New York, 1965, p. 191, fig. 30, engraving illustrated.
L. Ireland, The Works of George Inness: An Illustrated Catalogue Raisonné, San Antonio, Texas, 1965, p. 53, no. 218, engraving illustrated.
N. Cikovsky, Jr., George Inness, New York, 1971, pp. 29, 36-38, 191, engraving illustrated.
P. Bermingham, American Art in the Barbizon Mood, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1975, p. 50.
N. Cikovsky, Jr., M. Quick, George Inness, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles, California, 1985, pp. 22-23, 26-27, illustrated.
N. Cikovsky, Jr., George Inness, New York, 1993, pp. 41, 51-54, 69, engraving illustrated.
S.M. Promey, “The Ribband of Faith: George Inness, Color Theory and the Swedenborgian Church,” The American Art Journal, 1994, vol. 26, nos. 1-2, pp. 50-51, engraving illustrated.
R.Z. DeLue, George Inness and the Science of Landscape, Chicago, Illinois, 2004, pp. 147-48, engraving illustrated.
M. Quick, George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2007, p. 214, no. 181, engraving illustrated.
New York, National Academy of Design, 37th Annual Exhibition, April 14-June 23, 1862, no. 48.
Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Art Association, Brooklyn and Long Island Fair for the Benefit of U.S. Sanitary Commission, February 22, 1864, no. 38.
New York, American Art Galleries, American Art Association, Special Exhibition of Oil Paintings: Works of Mr. George Inness, N.A., April 1884, no. 38.
(Possibly) New York, Union League Club, Exhibition: A Group of Landscapes by Deceased Painters, March 14-16, 1901, no. 20.

Lot Essay

During the 1860s, George Inness concentrated on the marvels of light, as seen in his impressive Light Triumphant. According to G.W. Sheldon, Light Triumphant was painted in Medfield, Massachusetts. He explains, “In 1860 [Inness] was settled in the simple country scenery of Medfield, Massachusetts, where he painted some of his best pictures, among them a landscape now belonging to Mr. Gibson, of Brooklyn, which a distinguished friend named ‘Light Triumphant’...” (American Painters: With Eighty-Three Examples of Their Work Engraved on Wood, New York, 1879, p. 30) “The Medfield period,” notes George Inness, Jr., “lasted from 1859 to 1864. From the point of view of artistic achievements it was of great importance in my father’s life. The ideas which he had absorbed were now beginning to show in his work, and his own individual style was developing. In other words George Inness was beginning to be George Inness.” (Life, Art, and Letters of George Inness, New York, 1917, p. 36)

The title Light Triumphant was given by Henry Ward Beecher, and according to Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr. is “significant not only because it indicates a revived interest in expressive content, but because it suggests that the theme resides in the landscape itself--and in the light particularly--rather than in accessory figures.” (George Inness, New York, 1971, p. 36)

After the National Academy exhibit of 1862, Light Triumphant was discussed more than any of Inness’ previous paintings. As Cikovsky notes, “ …in no painting had the interpretive and expressive aims of his landscape been as clearly perceived or positively received.” (George Inness, New York, 1993, p. 41) Michael Quick describes Light Triumphant as “an ambitious work, apparently epitomizing the chief qualities of the Medfield period, specifically a transforming light effect and expressively bold technique.” (George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2007, p. 214)

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