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Sunset over the Sea

Trained in the realistic conventions of the Hudson River school, George Inness slowly evolved a highly expressive and original manner after the Civil War and turned to suggestive, nontopographical landscapes. In late works like Sunset over the Sea, Inness achieved a coloristic and expressive unity that stepped further away from objective reality. The image is divided into two registers, sea and sky, rendered in hazes of pigment that mimic the shifting state of air, water, and light in nature. Sea birds riding the currents of air above the waves in the foreground, which is bathed in an eerie light, undoubtedly bore a spiritual message for the artist, an ardent follower of the Swedenborgian faith.

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