History And Context
A restless, inveterate traveler his entire life, George Inness made many extended painting trips to locations in the southern United States in the last decade of his career. Drawn as much by concern for his health as for the natural attractions, he wintered regularly in the relatively isolated community of Tarpon Springs, Florida, from 1887 until his death in 1894. Inness made some of his finest late paintings in this sleepy town, off the beaten path and not a typical vacation spot on the northern Florida Gulf Coast known for its tall pine trees, causeways, and short, flat vistas. Infused with a pantheistic view that equated the physical world with the spiritual realm, these late works are characterized by an expressive, loose transcription of nature achieved through broad paint application that involved subtle color, tonal effects, and glazing.
His paintings from the mid-1880s until his death are characterized by an expressive, loose transcription of nature through broad paint application and subtle color and tonal effects. Moonlight, Tarpon Springs reverberates with spiritual intensity as the moon and glow of a distant bonfire pick out details in an otherwise dark and shadowy landscape poetically described by Duncan Phillips as having a “musical intensity” in its subtle tonalities. A lone woman wearing a white kerchief, who serves as both a compositional anchor and poetic accent, enhances the mystery and magic of the night. The figure and atmospheric effects are also reminiscent of the work of the French Barbizon School, an early influence for Inness. Inness's landscapes depict a luminous, gloriously hued, and limitless counterpart to the physical world of matter and substance.