What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
By 1914, Henry Ward Ranger was known as the leader of the “Tonal School” in American art circles. A habitué of the artist colony at Old Lyme, Connecticut, he later moved up the coast to the remote fishing town of Noank where he was inspired by abandoned farms and ancient oaks: the “civilized landscape”, as George Inness described it. Of all the major Tonalists, Ranger maintained a lingering allegiance to Barbizon models of paint handling and the Dutch tradition of landscape painting. But after 1900, he developed a freer and more vigorous personal style that allowed him to explore the American landscape with a new intimacy, employing James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s design principles of cropping and emphasis on subtle patterns. Ranger’s paint surfaces have a mosaic-like quality, glittering darkly—especially when the ground of the canvas or panel is allowed to show through the pigment, a nod to the veils of glazing the artist so admired in Venetian painting.
American, 1858-1916, Syracuse, New York, based in New York, New York