George Inness painted “Early Autumn, Montclair” in 1891. This autumn scene shows an old, gnarled tree situated in the flat meadows of New Jersey, near his home in Montclair. In this painting, one can see the backdrop of the softly lit sky partnered with the lone tree, placed under a lamp-light setting. The painting not only showcases Inness’ skill as a landscape painter but also his artistic eye that he had cultivated through studies of European artists such as John Kensett and Dutch master Jan van Goyen.
Inness’ picturesque autumn scenes are some of his most renowned works and have become the hallmark of American landscape painting. He was known for using certain motifs in his paintings often, such as a central elm tree and distant white house. Much like Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ painting “The Source”, viewers take pleasure in studying details within Inness’ works due to the element of surprise it creates upon every viewing experience and thus making it worth enjoying again and again.