Born in Newburgh, New York, in 1825, George Inness was raised in New York City and Newark, New Jersey. His early life was disrupted by severe illness, and he had as a result little formal academic or artistic education. In Newark, he studied with the itinerant painter John Jesse Barker, and in New York, probably in 1843, with the French-born landscape painter, Régis François Gignoux. Inness visited Italy in 1850. In 1853 he visited France, where he studied French Barbizon landscape painting, admiring especially the work of the most radical of the Barbizon artists, Théodore Rousseau. This was, in the influence on his style, the most decisive experience of Inness' artistic life. In the early 1860s Inness moved from New York to Medfield, Massachusetts. In 1864, he moved to Eagleswood, New Jersey. At Eagleswood he was introduced to the teaching of Emanuel Swedenborg. It became his religious faith, and determined, too, the increasingly allusive, expressive, and almost mystical character of his later art.
Inness lived in Italy from 1870 to 1874 and in France briefly in 1875, when he returned to America. In 1876 he settled in Montclair, New Jersey. He lived in Montclair for the rest of his life, but traveled widely, often for the sake of his health, to Niagara Falls, Virginia, California, and Tarpon Springs, Florida.
He died on a trip to Scotland in 1894. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Inness, George, Jr. Life, Art, and Letters of George Inness. New York, 1917.
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. George Inness. New York, 1971.
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr., and Michael Quick. George Inness. Los Angeles, 1977.
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. George Inness. New York, 1993.
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 349-350.