One Last Luminal Moment

by Christine Adams Beckett

Many art historians believe that George Inness, the accomplished painter that lived in Montclair for the last decade of his life, was greatly influenced by his faith, namely the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg.  He believed that everything in nature had a corresponding spiritual element.  Inness once said that “the true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.”  At Home In Montclair is described here in similar terms:

There is a bit of urban myth attached to George Inness’s very sudden death that is too far fetched to believe, as much as one would want to believe it.  His son, George Inness, Jr, claimed that while they were vacationing in Bridge-of-Allan, Scotland watching the sun set, “he threw up his hands into the air and exclaimed, ‘My God! Oh! How beautiful!” He died a mere minutes later.   The more logical explanation lies in his epileptic childhood, perhaps manifesting again with a violent, final blow.  But what a romantic notion: the artist overtaken with beauty, suggesting an overwhelming underscore of his own spirituality, resulting in his own death.  Or that simply his last moments had happened to come when he was witnessing an act of natural beauty, and therefore his own personal connection to the spiritual world, perchance while drafting in his mind a canvas from his God given observation.  A final luminal moment he had, at last, holding a diamond between his thumb and forefinger to admire it.