Inness, having returned from nearly five years in Italy and France, sought to reestablish himself as a painter of American—not just European—landscapes. In 1875, Inness traveled to the White Mountains in New Hampshire with his son and with fellow artist John A. Monks in search of native...
Inness, having returned from nearly five years in Italy and France, sought to reestablish himself as a painter of American—not just European—landscapes. In 1875, Inness traveled to the White Mountains in New Hampshire with his son and with fellow artist John A. Monks in search of native subject matter. After sketching in the field, he developed his studies into finished paintings in a studio on the second floor of an old North Conway school house. Inness’s painting Near Kearsarge Village [30.102] also dates from this trip. The distinctive shape of the mountain in the background of The Church Spire indicates that this is probably a northern view across the Saco River bottomland, also known as the Intervale, toward the White Mountains. Hudson River school artists from John Frederick Kensett to Albert Bierstadt had painted panoramic landscapes in this same area earlier in the nineteenth century, but Inness depicted the familiar scenery in new ways. His view was more intimate, and he employed strong colors to accentuate the weather conditions. The warm shades of salmon and orange cast by the setting sun on the receding storm clouds give The Church Spire an uplifting and hopeful quality; the church steeple in the very center suggests the spiritual underpinning of the composition. A critic for the Daily Evening Traveller recognized the mystical character of Inness’s New Hampshire landscapes, finding in his paintings “the rendering of the vitality of nature, and the spiritual element which gives to the work an internal force that carries the mind above what we call nature, to the Original Source.” Notes 1. Daily Evening Traveller (Boston), September 16, 1875, 1. Janet L. Comey
Lower right: G. Inness 1875
1875, the artist; before 1907, James Brown Case (1825-1907), Boston and Weston, Mass.; by 1918, by descent to his daughters, Caroline Case (Mrs. James G.) Freeman (1856-1919), Louise W. Case (1862-1946), and Marian R. Case (1864-1944), Weston, Mass.; 1920, gift of Louise W. Case and Marian R. Case to the MFA. (Accession Date: February 26, 1920)
Gift of the Misses Louisa W. and Marian R. Case