What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
Illustrated and discussed in A History of American Tonalism, p. 460.
Tonalist painter Franklin De Haven began in the 1880s with exquisitely poetic landscapes, but by 1900 his canvases gained a gestural power and sinuous energy. The charged emotional quality of his late work was due largely to his method of rendering form with flourishes of paint marks. In his scenes of swaying trees and roiling thunderclouds, De Haven balanced soft-edged masses with notes of sharp linear contour; his most expressionistic canvases speak of a joy and exuberance in the outdoors, where the artist spent much of the summer. Wet-into-wet facture, scumbling, and scraped pigment—sometimes with the butt of a paint brush or palette knife edge—give a tactility to his canvas surfaces, not unlike the weathered and eroded face of the land itself. Often his pigment is dragged, flattened, and treated almost like relief sculpture, offering itself as a physical or embodied metaphor for the activating forces behind nature.
American, 1856-1934, Bluffton, Indiana, based in New York, New York