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    Description

    George Inness (American, 1825-1894)
    Evening Glow, 1883
    Oil on canvas
    22 x 36 inches (55.9 x 91.4 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: G. Inness 1883

    PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED HOUSTON COLLECTOR

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Elizabeth Hart Inness, the artist's wife;
    Sale: Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, New York, February 11-13, 1904, lot 116;
    Mrs. Harriet A. Curtis, Plainfield, New Jersey, acquired from the above;
    Sale: Anderson Galleries, New York, November 25, 1921, lot 78;
    John Levy Galleries, New York, acquired from the above;
    Albert R. Jones, Kansas City, Missouri, acquired from the above;
    Long & Company, Houston, Texas;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1966.

    LITERATURE:
    "Inness Pictures at Auction," The New York Times, New York, February 13, 1904;
    "Inness Picture Sale Ends," New-York Daily Tribune, New York, February 14, 1904;
    "Evening Glow by George Inness in Sale at Anderson Galleries," American Art News, November 12, 1921, illustrated;
    L. Ireland, Works of George Inness, Austin, Texas, 1965, p. 262, no. 1059, illustrated;
    M. Quick, George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. II, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2007, pp. 144-45, no. 819, pl. 164, illustrated.

    George Inness' breathtaking Evening Glow from 1883, depicting a man with a cane strolling across a wheat field illuminated by a fiery orange sunset, marks a turning point in his 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, many of these set in Milton on the Hudson, New York, where he summered: 1) plein-air pastoral landscapes faithfully recording natural details and times of day and 2) figure paintings of farmers, shepherds, mothers, and children at work or play. 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. The fundamental tenet of Aestheticism, "art for art's sake," defined art not as literal interpretation of nature, but rather as a subjective, expressive, or decorative arrangement of formal elements. Inness' canvases from 1883 onward illustrate his ready adoption of Aestheticism, as they feature a single dominant color, or contrasting pairs of colors, and a pictorial structure of flattened horizontal bands intersected by vertical elements. The Aesthetic Movement -- and its emphasis on "tonal" compositions -- swept across the Northeast, and by 1884, art critics were describing its practitioners as "toneists" or "colorists," while the leading organizers of exhibitions, the Society of American Artists and the National Academy of Design, were hanging their galleries based on the principal color of the artwork (M. Quick, George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. II, 1880-1894, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2007, p. 15).

    Inness quickly discovered that the sunset (or sunrise) was an ideal landscape device for testing his new aesthetic vocabulary, particularly the use of color to heighten emotion. From 1883-89, he completed nearly fifty sunset paintings -- more than any other theme -- capturing a variety of locations from Nantucket, Massachusetts, to Milton, New York, to Goochland Courthouse, Virginia, to Montclair, New Jersey, his home after 1885. The present lot, Evening Glow, likely set in Montclair, demonstrates the artist's technique of dividing the composition into bands of contrasting colors, where the hot orange-yellow sky balances the cool green field, trees, and ridge below. By applying multiple layers of glazes over these colors, Inness achieves a hazy effect, which softens and flattens the landscape details, including the figure with his basket and cane, clumped sheaves of wheat on the right, and a hay wagon in the back of the field. His particular subject of a reflective figure situated in a shadowed field at sundown led critics to compare Evening Glow to Jean-François Millet's famous 1859 peasant painting, The Angelus. Indeed, through deliberately chosen compositional elements -- an old man, a harvested autumn field, and a full wagon, Inness here muses on the similarities between "end of day" and "end of life."

    In the second volume of his definitive catalogue raisonné on the artist, Dr. Michael Quick elaborates on the importance of this work in Inness' oeuvre. Evening Glow was the star of the 1904 sale of Mrs. George Inness' estate at the Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, New York: "'Inness Pictures at Auction,' The New York Times, February 13, 1904, reports that the auctioneer cited this work as one 'which the artist considered the greatest of his life'; the article also claims that the work 'is said by many critics to compare favorably and in some instances to surpass Millet's Angelus.' 'Inness Picture Sale Ends,' New-York Daily Tribune, February 14, 1904, p. 4, notes that this painting, which brought the highest price in the sale, was painted as a gift to the artist's wife; and that 'by many of his friends Mr. Inness is said to have regarded this picture as his masterpiece'" (Geroge Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné, p. 145).



    Condition Report*: Canvas backed by panel, but is not laid down; difficult to determine if canvas is lined due to backing panel; there appears to be craquelure throughout, but surface is stable; varnish has yellowed and work may benefit from a cleaning; a small flake of loss to varnish at top center edge; under UV exam, there appears to be a heavy discolored varnish layer that makes restoration difficult to discern; however, a few possible lines of craquelure fluoresce at center left edge. Framed Dimensions 32 X 46 X 3.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2016
    12th Saturday
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