Tonalist Painters
And the
Landscape Painters

Landscape painting is about land and how we see it.
Leonardo da Vinci sneaked it in behind the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo thought it a lower painting form. He hated it. The Dutch painters, stated it plainly, simply, this is where we live. This is how we live in our landscape. The Impressionist really are the painters that started to deal with landscape as an important compositional statement. It also became symbolic of the working man, the farmer, a slice of life of the everyday person, man or woman. Land became heroic. Land became sacred. Land became the focal point of artist. You could zero in on the French Barizon school of painters as an influence.

It may have started in seriousness with Courbet or Corot. They have many small scales painting that deal solely with landscape. Now this landscape that they paint recalls memory.
In America, Painters in the Hudson River School painted the Sublime. Landscapes that made us bow to nature and its spacious ness and power. Just look at the clouds of a Thomas Moran painting.

This concept of where we live moved west ward with artist and explorers. This concept of, this spirit of being a part of the land started to grow because we had so much and it was massive. The mountains and the plains, forest and valleys, this was not Europe. Towns started to expand their streets and the space between houses. Farms became ranches. Houses became bigger. Land became money and power.
This power was not just money but spirit. Mountain men like Davey Crocket or Jerimiah Johnson started or started to repeat what the American Indian already knew, what farmers understood. We are the Stewarts of this land we live upon. We must become more aware of how were use it and protect it.

And so we come to the Tonalist Painters.

Ralph Albert Blakelock 1847-1919

Thomas Wilmer Dewing 1851-1938

Robert Swain Gifford1840-1905

Alexander Thomas Harrison 1854 -1929

Lowell Birge Harrison 1854-1929
George Inness1825-1894

John La Farge 1835-1910

Arthur Frank Mathews 1860-1945

John Francis Murphy 1853-1921

**Albert Pinkham Ryder** 1847-1917

John Henry Twachtman 1853-1902

Julian Alden Weir 1852-1919

James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1843-1903
This list is taken from the site-

They were not interested in so much in the narrative powers of art as the mystic powers. They used close values. Contrast would be applied carefully as it could jolt the senses. Theirs was a meditative approach to art making and viewing. Their pallets were very sparse, limited if you will to their choice of color and that was chosen because of its spiritual powers, it’s power to come from the earth and the atmosphere, the color the solid and atmospheric share.

The narrative is poetic, visually poetic. There is not a focal point that is obvious, that stands out as a focal point. These painters went for the heart not necessisarily the head.

Landscapes and interior settings tend to blend together. They are spare. They are mysterious. They are carefully arranged, or composed if you will. They are compositions and not recordings. You are to view them in a comtemplative state, maybe even spiritual. As one of the characteristics of value is mood and atmosphere, these painters adopted this idea and pushed into lets say Gothic porportions. This is the 19th century.

These painters have studied in Europe and with each other in a young America. The colors they choose are Browns, yellows greens, blues, all muted and grayed. The contrast when used was light, reds oranges and yellows, the effects of sunrise and sunset. What could be more romantic.

How to describe this Tonalist style in a way that would make it different from other styles, say to contrast it to the Impressionist.
natural,*Organic, open/spacious/floating, Diffused/atmospheric/hazy/incandescent/

There is no solid touchable focal point.
There is the spiritual, metaphysical, poetic or symbolic emphasis to the paintings, illustrated by the hazy, looking through gauze like atmosphere. Or maybe it’s the I’m just not quite awake yet, dream like state.