Synopses & Reviews
Paint should not be applied thick,” James McNeill Whistler once famously stated. It should be like breath on the surface of a pane of glass.” Through an innovative manner of handling paint, a group of American artists around 1900 created deceptively simple canvases that convey images of shimmering transience, visions suggested rather than delineated. Focusing on this singular aesthetic characteristicsoftnessLike Breath on Glass explores this painterly phenomenon through works by fifteen important artists, including Whistler, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, John Twachtman, and Edward Steichen.
Leading scholars in American art consider a wide variety of topics: the very different motivestechnical, social, religious, and scientificthat prompted these artists in their experimentation; their materials; their techniques for creating the appearance of effortlessness; period notions of the vague” through art and writing; and the revival of "painting softly" in the 1950s and 1960s. This beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated catalogue highlights a surprisingly understudied yet important aspect of American cultural and painterly achievement.
'\"[A] stunning catalogue. Seven essays . . . illuminate the aesthetic of painting softly first formed by Whistler in the 1870s and pursued by other American painters. . . . Superb color plates and documentation. Essential.\"Choice -- Eighteenth-Century Fiction'
'Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine -- Choice'
A canonical figure in American painting, George Inness (1825and#8211;1894) is widely admired as the pioneer of the landscape aesthetic known as Tonalism, which is distinguished by soft focus and diaphanous layers of paint. This is the first book about the artist's two Italian sojourns (1851and#8211;52 and 1870and#8211;74) and their formative impact on his work.
Italyand#8212;its art and its landscapeand#8212;offered Inness a font of inspiration as he developed his unique artistic vision. This handsome book presents ten oil paintings surveying Inness's Italian subjects dating from 1850 to 1879, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art's recently restored Twilight on the Campagna, which has not been on view since 1952. This was the first of Inness's works completed in Italy, and its reemergence offers a unique opportunity to reconsider the career of a leading American artist.
About the Author
Marc Simpson is Curator of American Art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Art History at Williams College. Wanda Corn is the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford University. Cody Hartley is Assistant Curator of American Art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Michael J. Lewis is Professor of Art at Williams College. Leo G. Mazow is Curator of American Art at the Palmer Museum of Art and Affiliate Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. Joyce Hill Stoner is Professor and Painting Conservator at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and Director, University of Delaware Preservation Studies Doctoral Program. '