A Mystery Solved At The DMA. A Piece Of Artwork's True Author Has Been Revealed.

A Mystery Solved At The DMA. A Piece Of Artwork's True Author Has Been Revealed.
George Inness, Stream in the Mountains [formerly: In the Woods], c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Cecil A. Keating, 1931.6

We don't often hear of sleuth-like happenings on museum property, but today the Dallas Museum of Art released exciting information. A piece of artwork long-thought to be painted by Asher B. Durand, was actually painted by George Inness. The mysterious work was willed to the institution in a lump donation Cecil A. Keating, a Texas State Fair founder and a manufacturing mogul who passed away 80 years ago.

The canvass is unsigned, and it's unclear precisely when the painting, formerly titled In The Woods was attributed to Durand. Still, for forty years that remained the general conciseness. But some still had doubts.

By the 1970s the questions surrounding Woods' paternity became too compelling to ignore and the work was downgraded to "possibly being by Durand," a state of limbo where In The Woods hovered until Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art, got a good look at it.

She was enchanted by the painting's dubious pedigree and felt the differences between Durand's use of spatial orientation and what she saw throughout this canvass were significant, so she set out on a mission. Canterbury then found a pen and ink drawing at the Princeton University Art Museum that directly related to In The Woods -- it showed the angular rock formation anchoring the lower middle-third of the work. She knew she had it: The "Durand" was an Inness. Now all she needed was proof.

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Canterbury presented her evidence to art historian and author of the 2007 publication, George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné, Michael Quick. She sent him high resolution digital images of the orphaned artwork for proper inspection. Quick not only decided that it was painted by American landscape legend George Inness, he was able to pinpoint the date of its creation to roughly 1850, a time when the painter was working with a series of similar nature-rich, Berkshire scenes.

Since the title In The Woods was likely just a space-holder ascribed to the piece, it has now been renamed Stream In The Mountains to more closely match the visual take-away and the methods that Inness used to title his own works. History has been corrected and the mystery solved: George Inness did it, in America, with a paintbrush.


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