Summer Evening, Montclair, New Jersey

Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 114.3 cm
Colby College Museum of Art, the Lunder Collection
Accession number
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Far removed from the industry and materialism for which the United States of America became known during the late nineteenth century, Summer Evening, Montclair, New Jersey reveals how artist George Inness engaged with the land as a source of spirituality and heightened aesthetic experience. A convert to Swedenborgianism in the 1860s, Inness believed that the process of painting cultivated spirituality. In Summer Evening, the weight of the humid summer air is felt through glazes and softly integrating brush strokes in dusky tones, dissolving lines between forms and joining them together in a shared expression of harmonious interrelation. The figures further emphasize the spirituality of the work: two are seated in a field while one stands or walks along a road bisecting the composition near the horizon. This trio creates a sense of balance amid the wild nature, deepening the illusion of an agrarian ideal captured in gauzy, fleeting light as evening shifts into darkness.