In the Woods
Two women saunter within a dense thicket of vegetation. George Inness leads us into his painting with a path and exploits complementary colors through subtle modulations, setting forth a dazzling rhythm of the reds of the umbrella, flowers, and dress of the woman on the right against the deep green backdrop of the woods.
George Inness came of age during the formation of the Hudson River School. However, Inness later distinguished himself from this group. By the 1880s, the artist adhered to the mystic philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg, seeking a divine unity in nature and man. He eschewed the detailed wilderness scenes prized by other Hudson River School painters in favor of broadly painted compositions of what he termed “the civilized landscape,” where people lived in harmony with nature. Beyond the details of the physical realm, Inness sought a divine unity in all the world’s elements. His efforts would give him the reputation of the foremost artist-philosopher of his generation.