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GEORGE INNESS

BLUE NIAGARA, 1884

About the Artwork

Inness may have painted Blue Niagara in response to Frederic Edwin Church’s famous picture Niagara (1857, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Both are very large and capture panoramic views of the falls. Church took his view from the Canadian side, rendering the scene with precise, almost Ruskinian detail and emphasizing the terrifying power of the cataract. He dispensed with a solid foreground and suspended the viewer above the rushing torrent. Inness, on the other hand, painted his view from the American side, emphasizing the majesty of the falls and the colors of the water and mist in full sunlight and in shadow. Inness painted the falls thirty years after Church; by that time, he had visited Europe and absorbed the Barbizon style in France, which led him to create poetic landscapes with softened forms rather than specific details. Using lush brush strokes and an array of hues ranging from deep blue and emerald green to lavender, Inness rendered the beauty of the cascade and the sparkling atmosphere surrounding it.

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