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George Inness, The Delaware Water Gap

Key facts
Full title The Delaware Water Gap
Artist George Inness
Artist dates 1825 - 1894
Date made about 1857
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 90.5 × 138.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed to the Tate Gallery by J. Sanders Slater in 1939 and transferred in 1956
Inventory number NG4998
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Delaware Water Gap
George Inness

This view is of the Delaware River, which flows between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, two of the original 13 states of what was to become the United States of America. We are positioned on the Pennsylvania side of the river, below the Delaware Water Gap, an area where the river has carved a large ridge through the Appalachian Mountains.

In the 1850s, much of the American landscape was still unknown to European settlers. Inness gives it a distinctly European look to suggest fertile land that can be easily inhabited and cultivated. This is a tranquil and domesticated landscape, a pastoral scene very different from the often dramatic and extremely harsh terrain that artists and photographers at this time were encountering further west. Inness includes the recently constructed railroad and a steam locomotive, but does not make them the focus of the painting.

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