What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
Illustrated and discussed in, A History of American Tonalism, p. 458.
William Anderson Coffin managed the transition from a figurative academic artist trained under Leon Bonnat to one of America’s leading Tonalist landscape painters. When he returned from Paris in 1882, he found that the American art market had developed a taste for poetic landscapes, and so turned his technical skills to crafting scenes of great mystery and charm. Coffin exhibited meticulous brushwork and a feeling for sumptuous tonal variations across the expansive foregrounds and skies in his paintings. Closer inspection of his surfaces reveals deft, lustrous passages of paint marks, and an architectonic sensibility that lifts his landscapes, many set in Western Pennsylvania and the artist’s farm in the Jenner Valley, above the ordinary.