George Inness was one of the ablest and most prolific of the 19th century landscape painters. His first brief instruction in art was with the itinerant painter John Jesse Barker (active 1815-1856). He was then apprenticed for about two years to the engravers Sherman and Smith in New York.
Inness received praise at the age of nineteen when he exhibited a landscape at the National Academy of Design in New York; thereafter, he exhibited regularly at the Academy and at the American Art-Union. His early landscapes reflect the influence of the prevailing Hudson River School style, and particularly the detailed, vertical woodward views of Asher B. Durand.
Inness was a frequent traveler, going to Italy about 1850 and to France in 1853, and sojourning in both countries during 1870-74. Though he never became an imitator of foreign styles, he did not hesitate to use what he learned abroad. The result was a development from a tight early style to a poetic, almost abstract late manner which earns him a place as one of the most creative of American landscape painters. The paintings that culminate his first mature period are still in the Hudson River mode; they express the kind of expansiveness and optimism found in paintings by the best of Inness’ contemporaries, such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederic E. Church.