The Rainbow

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
30 x 45 in. 40 x 55 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of George E. Hume
Accession number
44.137
Collection
Currently On View

The storm provides a striking contrast between the passing dark clouds, a rainbow streaking across the sky, and the sun illuminating the grass.

The Rainbow belongs to the dramatic series of storm scenes painted by Inness during the late 1870s.

Mr. H. Wheeler Bond purchased the piece from the artist. Mrs. Edward Carroll Sibley (Mr. Bond's daughter) inherited the piece. Max Safron of St. Louis purchased the piece. It was then owned by Dr. Maurice J. Lonsway of St. Louis. The piece was presented to the John Herron Art Institute of Indianapolis in 1944.
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George Inness's Landscape Painting

"George Inness, who saw the divine in nature, dedicated his career to landscape painting. In his early years, he concentrated on detailed renderings, but by the 1870s he had softened his forms and created striking contrasts of tone to express the spirituality that motivated him. The Rainbow belongs to a dramatic series of storm scenes painted by Inness in the late 1870s. It has its roots in the work of the Hudson River School, a group of artists who painted landscapes in New York State, New England, and even the far West between 1825 and 1875. These artists believed that the landscape represented God, and that landscape painting could bring viewers closer to the spirituality necessary to lead a righteous existence.

A deeply religious man, Inness followed the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish mystic who taught that objects in the material world have correspondences in the realm of the spirit. Inness composed his landscapes so as to convey an otherworldly presence and freely rearranged nature to suggest various moods or states of mind. In The Rainbow, he has charged the setting with contrasts of climate, mood, and theme: the passing storm provides sudden atmospheric changes from dark to light, while the ominous black clouds on the left are a foil for the optimistic symbol of the rainbow."

Lee, Ellen Wardwell, Anne Robinson, and Alexandra Bonfante-Warren. Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2005, pp. 136-137.

The Influence of Swedenborgianism on George Inness’s Landscapes

George Inness was the foremost American landscape painter of the nineteenth century. He was born near Newburg, New York, and studied in New York City with French landscapist Regis Gignoux. Initially, his style developed under the influence of the Hudson River School, America’s first group of artists to focus on the country’s landscape. Inness, who saw the divine in nature, dedicated his career to landscape painting. In his early years, he concentrated on detailed renderings, but by the 1870s, he had softened his forms and created striking contrasts of tone to express the spirituality that motivated him. A deeply religious man, Inness followed the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish mystic who taught that objects in the material world have correspondences in the spiritual realm. Inness composed his landscapes so as to convey an otherworldly presence and freely rearranged nature to suggest various moods or states of mind.

The Rainbow belongs to the dramatic series of storm scenes painted by Inness during the late 1870s. The setting is charged with contrasts of climate, mood, and theme. The passing storm provides sudden atmospheric changes from dark to light, while the ominous black clouds at the left are a foil to the more optimistic symbol of the rainbow. To Inness, the rainbow exemplified spirituality.

Bell, Adrienne Baxter. George Inness and the Visionary Landscape. New York: George Braziller Inc., 2007.

DeLue, Rachel Ziady. George Inness and the Science of Landscape Painting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

George Inness, who saw the divine in nature, dedicated his career to landscape painting. In his early years, he concentrated on detailed renderings, but by the 1870s he had softened his forms and created striking contrasts of tone to express the spirituality that motivated him. The Rainbow belongs to a dramatic series of storm scenes painted by Inness in the late 1870s. It has its roots in the work of the Hudson River School, a group of artists who painted landscapes in New York State, New England, and even the far West between 1825 and 1875. These artists believed that the landscape represented God, and that landscape painting could bring viewers closer to the spirituality necessary to lead a righteous existence.

A deeply religious man, Inness followed the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish mystic who taught that objects in the material world have correspondences in the realm of the spirit. Inness composed his landscapes so as to convey an otherworldly presence and freely rearranged nature to suggest various moods or states of mind. In The Rainbow, he has charged the setting with contrasts of climate, mood, and theme: the passing storm provides sudden atmospheric changes from dark to light, while the ominous black clouds on the left are a foil for the optimistic symbol of the rainbow.

The things in nature are nothing but effects; their causes are in the spiritual world.
-Emanuel Swedenborg, 1749