Artwork Detail

Storm on the Delaware
American, 1825–1894
Oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 45 3/8 "
University purchase, Bixby Fund, 1910
WU 2190
"Storm on the Delaware" is a revealing example of George Inness’s late style, often associated with American Impressionism, which emphasizes mood and effect over narrative or topographical documentation. In this work, Inness reprises a subject—the atmospheric effects of storms in the Delaware Valley—that he had explored almost thirty years earlier, elevating it to a spiritual realm that is at once familiar and otherworldly. Using a limited, tonal palette, soft focus, and compressed composition, his depiction of the peaceful river scene after a storm is highly personalized. The sky is filled with a tumble of storm clouds that merge with the hills of the background, effectively creating a screen that obscures the landscape beyond. The sturdy rooftop and smoking chimney of the house at the lower right of the placid farm scene hints at the inhabitants of the valley, tucked safely away for the storm. Inness sanded down the surface of the painting, perhaps in preparation for painting over it, though he has clearly signed it twice—once before and once after sanding—suggesting he considered this work finished. He may have preferred the distancing effect of the sanding, which obscures the scene and facilitates the suggestion of a more spiritual or meditative engagement with the landscape. [Exhibition label, 2013]