George Inness rendered this barren winter landscape with thin, blended brushstrokes and his characteristically subdued palette. Mystery pervades the quiet rural scene. With daylight fading, two women stand apart, possibly gathering branches to use as firewood in one of the modest dwellings barely discernable in the distance. The painting’s title refers to Goochland, Virginia (northwest of Richmond), which Inness visited in 1884, suggesting that he painted the present composition from memory and with little regard for topographical specificity, as was his method.
Inness’ course handling reveals his admiration of French landscape painters associated with the village Barbizon, including Jean François Millet. For Inness, those painters’ relatively abstract, subjective effect offered a visual counterpart to the ideas of Emmanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist turned theologian who maintained that all objects in the physical world corresponded to a spiritual equivalent.
Written by Timothy Clark, Class of 2012
American Art Intern, Spring 2010
landscapes; sunset; silhouettes
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