Thursday, March 24, 2011

Treasure Hunters: Rediscovering George Inness’ Italian Sojourn

When Michael Quick searched high and low in 2007 for paintings by 19th century American master George Inness to include in what would be his award-winning catalogue raisonne of Inness’ work, he came to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Twilight on the Campagna. The 1851 painting had entered the collection in 1945 and hadn’t been exhibited since 1952. An example of Inness’ earliest work in excellent condition, Twilight on the Campagna was one of those hidden treasures languishing in the darkness for want of wall space, because of critical blind spots, or both. The PMA recognized the treasure in their basement and conserved this masterpiece, which is now the centerpiece of their exhibition George Inness in Italy, which runs through May 15, 2011. Ironically, Inness’ Twilight began with his own treasure hunting, specifically a sojourn to Italy in search of artistry of the past he could take and transform into a new type of painting for the future. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Treasure Hunters."

[Image: Twilight on the Campagna, c. 1851. George Inness, American, 1825-1894. Oil on canvas, 38 x 53 5/8 inches (96.5 x 136.2 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Alex Simpson, Jr., Collection, 1945.]

[Many thanks to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for providing me with the image above and a review copy of the catalog to the exhibition George Inness in Italy, which runs through May 15, 2011.]

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