Peace and War (1848)
Oil on canvas
A major early work by George Inness, Peace and War unveils a rugged and vaguely historical panoramic landscape. Basing his composition on 17th-century French models, Inness placed two diminutive shepherds tending a small flock in the foreground. An approaching company of knights strikes a disquieting note in the otherwise bucolic scene. Inness' highly descriptive style speaks to the pervasive influence of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Dated to 1848, Peace and War may have served as Inness' tribute to Thomas Cole, the spiritual head of the Hudson River School who died that year. The painting might also allude to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and to waves of political revolutions that swept Europe beginning in 1848.