Old Homesteadc. 1877 by
Inness, George 1825-1894
"Old Homestead" was probably painted in Inness's New York studio sometime between March 1876, when he left Boston, and April 1877, when the National Academy of Design Annual Exhibition opened in New York. "Old Homestead" was a focal point of the exhibition and was highly praised by art critics. His exhibits were lauded for both truthfulness to nature and their poetry, while the spontaneous brushwork and luminosity were compared to Barbizon painters Theodore Rousseau and Camille Corot (1796-1875). The original title of this work, "The Homestead," encouraged critics to comment upon it in general terms. Only later was it retitled "Summer, Medfield, Massachusetts," suggesting that it might be based on outdoor studies made during the artist's residence there in the 1860s or 1870s. Yet the exact location, and whether this painting resembles it, was probably unimportant to Inness. What mattered were the feelings aroused by the place and their translation into a work of art. To convey these emotions, he felt, the artist should only elaborate to a point of recognition. Too much detail and the impression would be weakened; the painting would express materialism and commercialism rather than unity and spirituality.
The color and composition of Old Homestead show how Inness's painting methods had changed since The Juniata River. Color harmony, a strong point of his later work is achieved by restricting the range of values and by making green the predominate color. Since he had eliminated contrived curves and framing devices, the painting seems more casual and open. The rolling landscape is conceived as a series of roughly horizontal strips, a demonstration of his belief that a composition ought to be organized into three great planes. With such an arrangement, whatever rises above the horizon is given emphasis - in this case the magnificent elm trees just right of the center. Such prominences, according to Inness, should occur in the second plane, never in the first, a clear break from the Hudson River School practice that determined the placement of the birch tree in "The Juniata River."
Size (inches): 36 1/4 x 54 1/8
Medium: Oil on Canvas