What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
Illustrated and described in, A History of American Tonalism, p. 501.
Walter Nettleton was trained abroad by Parisian painters, but was so captivated by the atmospheric light of Brittany that when he returned to America he abandoned figurative subjects, which had won him an honorable mention at the Salon of 1892, and opted to pursue soft-toned landscapes, eventually becoming a master of the winterscape. The artist settled in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he spent the rest of his life interpreting the luminosity of reflected light on ice and snow. Nettleton elucidated underlying patterns in nature, often cropping subjects to dramatize them. He favored the low-angled light of the winter season, especially along icy stream banks and under cloudy or sunset skies, depicting the atmosphere and its ambient light. Nettleton’s near-mystical interpretation of snowbound New England places him with Lowell Birge Harrison and Walter Launt Palmer as one of the great interpreters of the winter season.