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.
Landscape, Welch Mountain (1863)
Asher B. Durand
Oil on canvas
Asher B. Durand evoked the philosophical idea of the Beautiful in the harmony, serenity and loveliness of this pastoral landscape of Welch Mountain, New Hampshire. He achieved these qualities by depicting the foreground with a fine brush to give remarkable detail, rendering the middle ground more sketchily and incorporating a number of flat, broadly painted areas of soft lavenders and blues in the background. Bright light and shadow play across the entire view, which is enveloped in a hazy atmosphere.
A successful engraver, Durand did not turn to painting as a career until he was 40. After Thomas Cole's death in 1848, he became the acknowledged leader of the group of American landscape painters commonly called the Hudson River School.