San Diego, CA.- The Timken Museum of Art, considered one of the finest small museums in the world, will be the exclusive West Coast venue for “George Inness in Italy”, an exhibition of the Italian landscapes of American painter George Inness. Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this is the first exhibition to examine George Inness’s two Italian sojourns, (1851–52 and 1870–74) and their formative impact on his experimentation with style, composition, and subject as he sought inspiration in both the art of the Old Masters and his personal experiences of the places they painted. Italy—its art and its landscape—offered Inness a font of inspiration as he developed his own unique artistic vision. “George Innes in Italy” will be on show at the Timken from June 10th through September 18th.
Inness’s two pivotal sojourns to Italy were catalysts for his career. He would continue to digest the ideas and subjects developed during his trips long after returning to the United States, as he advanced his art. For Inness Italy provided the paradigm of the “civilized landscape,” which he held up as the ideal for its ability to express human sentiment through nature, famously declaring that the aim of art “is not to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion.” George Inness in Italy presents ten oil paintings and one watercolor surveying Inness’s Italian subjects dating from 1850, just before his trip abroad, to his last in 1879. A highlight of the exhibition is the Timken Museum of Art’s “L’Ariccia” (c. 1874) Inness’s most representative of the three paintings exhibited from his second trip to Italy. Inness’s first major work completed in Italy, “Twilight on the Campagna” (c.1851) was a recently conserved painting and has not been on view since 1952. Its reemergence and restoration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, precipitated by a comprehensive publication, or catalogue raisonné, of Inness’s entire body of work issued in 2007, constituted a significant rediscovery. All of the paintings selected for this exhibition constitute the finest of Inness’ Italian work and are representative of the artist’s development during his three decades of engagement with the subject. Each landscape is filled with a poetic sentiment, encapsulating the topography with an “orchestrated intricacy.”
Inness enjoyed his most productive years during his second stay in Italy. His paintings sold well, both as mementos of Italy for affluent American travelers and as progressive stylistic experiments for leading collectors of American landscape painting. He is widely admired as the pioneer of the aesthetic known as Tonalism, which is distinguished by soft focus and diaphanous layers of paint. Although Inness returned to the United States in 1874, he continued to paint Italian compositions and honed the Tonalist aesthetic that began with his first trip to Italy in 1851. With “L’Ariccia” as its highlight, George Inness in Italy charts his development as he formed, interpreted, and later remembered his diverse and vivid impressions of Italy. Eleven of Inness’ paintings will be shown, including “L’Ariccia”, which is a part of the Timken’s permanent collection.
A desire to share the extraordinary European art collection of Amy and Anne Putnam with San Diego residents and visitors resulted in the establishment of the Timken Museum of Art. The Timken Museum of Art has its roots in the serendipitous relationship between two sisters, Anne R. and Amy Putnam – members of the Ohio-based Timken family of the Timken roller bearing fame – and San Diego attorney Walter Ames. The Putnam sisters arrived in San Diego in the early 1900s from Vermont, accompanied by their elderly parents and preceded by their uncle, Henry Putnam, who retired in San Diego in 1898. The Putnam sisters spent decades acquiring European old master paintings. Initial paintings from the sisters’ collection were donated to San Diego’s Fine Arts Gallery (now the San Diego Museum of Art). Their later acquisitions were loaned to prestigious museums around the country until the Timken Museum of Art opened in 1965. In 1951, with the assistance of longtime friend and advisor Walter Ames, the Putnam sisters established the nonprofit Putnam Foundation, under which their artworks became designated as the Putnam Foundation Collection.
In the early 1960’s, Ames secured financial support from the Timken family to help build the museum. In the years between the Foundation’s establishment and the opening of the museum, the Putnam Foundation Collection paintings remained on loan to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the National Gallery in Washington, DC; and Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum. In 1965, the paintings were reunited, and hung in their new permanent quarters at the Timken Art Museum. Located on the Prado in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park, today’s Timken Museum of Art displays more than 60 extraordinary artworks, predominantly paintings augmented by a small holding of sculpture and decorative art objects. The works in the Putnam Foundation Collection are primarily in three distinct areas: European old master paintings, 18th and 19th-century American art, and Russian icons. Each collection boasts unique and priceless representations of the specific genre. Notable works in the collection include Rembrandt’s Saint Bartholomew (the only painting by the Dutch artist on view in San Diego); Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Parable of the Sower; “Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Gage” by John Singleton Copley; “The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket” by Eastman Johnson; and the “View of Volterra” by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Visit the museum’s website at … www.timkenmuseum.org