Arts Everyday Living: Changing American Landscape in Art–On the Edge of Climate Change?

George Inness, The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas, Gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


The Changing American Landscape—On the Eve of Climate Change?

In the 1850s, American landscape artist George Inness (1825-1894) was commissioned to paint The Lackawanna Valley above by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. In it, a young boy, distinguished by a striking red vest, looks down upon the outskirts of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  The signs of industrialization and air pollution are already apparent including the smoke spewing locomotive in the middle ground, chugging away from the sooty factories of a coal mining city.

Yet, Inness has preserved what remains of the natural environment in the foreground, such as the fertile green fields (although recently cut tree stumps are also evident) and trees, either standing alone or clustered together. However, how much longer before this view will be built completely over, overwhelmed by the forces of nineteenth century modernization.




In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

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