Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2011 Issue

George Inness:  Picture Perfect

An interesting picture, probably by George Inness

I recently purchased a painting on eBay for $1,182.  It’s small and faintly familiar.  The artist is George Inness and the subject appears to be the Catskills, possibly looking south.  The underlying evidence for its authenticity is strong but so is my desire that it be so.  I liked the painting online and like it much more in person.

The scene is of a lake, intersecting ridges, the one coming in from the left in front of the ridge coming in from the right.  A lake lies between.  An almost identical scene, looking south toward the ridges, lake and skyline, was frequently painted by Hudson River painters in the 19th century; that Inness would paint it entirely logical.   The Catskill Mountain House along the second ridgeline would be just out of view.

George Inness was born in Newburgh, New York  [in northern Orange County] in 1825 and like most sons of Newburgh made his reputation and money elsewhere.  But he maintained his interest in the valley and, from time to time, returned to Milton on the Hudson just north of Newburgh in Ulster County, to summer and paint.  This painting is consistent with his later style and I have found documentation confirming he painted small paintings of area subjects while staying in Milton in the 1880 – 1890 period.  Size is an issue because the painting is small – 6” x 8”, well below the minimum sizes most 19th century painters used.  For confirmation I have relied on the “Executor’s Sale Catalogue of Paintings by the Late George Inness, N.A” which, while undated, does mention that the exhibition and sale is occurring on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 11th, 12th and 13th.  Mr. Inness died in 1894 and the nearest year that has those days on those dates is 1898.  The catalogue style is also consistent with that period.

Mr. Inness is not the area’s most famous 19th century painter.  That honor probably goes to John Vanderlyn of Kingston whose paintings and portraits of the early decades of the 19th century hang in important collections and museums.  Second is possibly the polymath Samuel F. B. Morse, an exceptional painter as well as inventor of the telegraph and resident of Poughkeepsie whose paintings are all but impossible to acquire today.  Next, Mr. Inness and a few others would compete for the show position.  As Mr. Inness spent summers painting scenes in Ulster County he has my vote. 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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