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The Sculptors

Landscape Artists


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The Race to Paint



Landscape Artists
April 2003

In colonial times artists in New Jersey mostly painted portraits, following the artistic trends of the time. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, a New Jerseyan found himself at the forefront of a new style of painting.

Asher Brown Durand of Maplewood was considered a leader of the Hudson River School of artists. These artists focused on landscape painting. Their goal was to paint nature the way it really looks.   Asher Brown Durand - Summer Afternoon
Asher Brown Durand Summer Afternoon

Durand was one of the first American artists to leave the studio and work outdoors. He went to the Adirondack, Catskill, and White Mountains in the summer to sketch his landscapes and then did his oil paintings in the studio, basing them on his sketches.

After working as an engraver for a Newark firm, Durand began painting portraits in the late 1820s. His love of nature and his friendship with Thomas Cole, the original leader of the Hudson River School, soon caused him to switch his focus to landscape art. Durand closely studied the rocks, trees, and plants that he would later use in his paintings. In addition to his artwork, he served as president of the National Academy of Design from 1845 to 1861.

The year before Durand became president, a young Newark resident exhibited his work for the first time at the National Academy of Design. George Inness would become the next prominent landscape painter with New Jersey ties.

Inness was born in Newburgh, New York, but his family moved to Newark when he was four. Like Durand, George started out as an engraver. He had a couple of months instruction in painting and then started producing his own works. Inness studied the works of Durand and Thomas Cole. His early work is detailed and realistic, like the Hudson River School art.   George Inness - Morning, Catskill Valley (oil on canvas, 35 3/8" x 53 3/4")
George Inness Morning, Catskill Valley
(The Red Oaks) 1894
Oil on canvas
35 3/8" x 53 3/4"

In 1853, Inness traveled to France. There he was influenced by the Barbizon painters. A decade later he returned live in Eagleswood. Reflecting the French influence, his work strayed from the Hudson River School. Inness now portrayed nature in a larger sense, with less focus on detail. He wanted to show the spirituality of nature.

After some time in New York City and Italy, Inness settled in Montclair, which provided the setting for many of his paintings throughout the rest of his life. Take a look at some of Inness’ paintings, including some pictures of Montclair.

Next: Watercolor

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