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George Inness (1825-1894) grew up on a farm in rural Newark, New Jersey and received only limited artistic training. At the age of 18 he held an apprenticeship in the studio of the landscape painter Regis Francois Gignoux (1816-1882) in New York. At a time when his contemporaries, the painters of the Hudson River School, were striving to create an American art style based on the direct study of the untamed American wilderness, Inness was studying the work of European masters such as Raphael, Claude or Titian and preferred the civilized landscapes of Europe.
After 1860, following his introduction to the eighteenth-century Swedish scientist-turned-mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, Inness's style changed. He began using rich, luminous colors, blended together to create vaporous, atmospheric landscapes that evoke mystery and reverie, rather than reality. Believing that God and spirit were omnipresent and accessible in all things, Inness attempted to find artistic expression for his new belief system. His later works fused sky with earth, trees with landscape to reveal this presence. Inness's keen powers of observation, which had formerly been translated into the detailed rendering of nature now, evidenced the fact that nature was constantly in movement and no one moment could be captured in paint.
In The Coming Shower, Inness evokes the temporary quality of light effects and the transitory weather conditions in nature. The dramatic, brightly-lit scene is yet diffused to indicate the fleeting nature of the storm. The poeticism of his later work achieved for Inness significant critical acclaim in his late years.