More about Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey
Some people like to get creative when they title their paintings; others, like George Inness, like to keep it literal.
Literal is exactly what he does in Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey, a painting that depicts exactly its titular subject. This kind of straightforwardness was an essential part of Inness, who, despite his deeply held transcendentalist beliefs, was a pretty pragmatic kinda guy. He was also a very spiritual man who saw art as an expression of the character of the Divine, but he didn’t see this as a reason to abstract or expand upon the realities of what he painted. Instead, he focused on using structure and balance to create paintings that reflected the beauty of the world around him, saying ”the poetic quality is not obtained by eschewing any truths of fact or of Nature,” and instead asserted that “Poetry is the vision of reality.”
Though Inness had spent decades traveling abroad and around the states—- including years spent working in a barn-turned-art-studio—he spent the last decade of his life settled in New Jersey. The natural landscapes, like that depicted here, inspired him, and he spent his time creating work that was a bit looser than that of his use but still kept with his tendency towards structure and order.
Inness was a deeply spiritual guy and spoke frequently of his art in connection with the Divine, or higher reality. He was also a follower of Emmanuel Swedenborg, a mystic and theologian from Sweden who believed he possessed the ability to converse with angels and also may or may not have predicted the future (???) -- depending on how trustworthy you find his biographers. Inness also wasn’t the only one interested in Swedenborg— Kant, John Wesley, and the Queen of Sweden all also interacted with him or his work.
And Swedenborg aside, Inness was arguably a bit of a mystic in his own right. Three years after painting Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey, he died in Scotland where, according to his son, he was watching a sunset when he suddenly cried out, "My God! oh, how beautiful!" before falling to the ground and dying minutes later. Kind of the best possible way to go.
- “Happy Birthday George Inness! – Swedenborg Foundation.” Swedenborg Foundation – Explorations of Spiritual Love and Wisdom Inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg, Swedenborg Foundation, https://swedenborg.com/happy-birthday-george-inness/. Accessed 18 Nov. 2021.
- Raynor, V. (1995, June 25). ART; The Latter Years of George Inness in “Presence of the Unseen.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1995/06/25/nyregion/art-the-latter-years-of-geo…
- George Inness Biography | Life, Paintings, Influence on Art | georgeinness.org. (2017). George Inness. https://www.georgeinness.org/biography.html
- M. (1954, June 28). Religion: The Great Swede. TIME.Com. http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,860897,00.html
Here is what Wikipedia says about Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey
Done in oil and crayon (charcoal was also possibly used), the painting depicts Montclair, New Jersey in springtime. The style of Springtime is similar to paintings of the Hudson River School, by which Inness was influenced.
The work is on view in the Metropolitan Museum's Gallery 770.
Check out the full Wikipedia article about Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey