Luminism (American art style)

Luminism (American art style)

Luminism is an American landscape painting style of the 1850s – 1870s, characterized by effects of light in landscapes, through using aerial perspective, and concealing visible brushstrokes. Luminist landscapes emphasize tranquility, and often depict calm, reflective water and a soft, hazy sky.

The term "luminism" was introduced by 20th century art historians to describe a 19th century American painting style that developed as an offshoot of the Hudson River school. The artists who painted in this style did not refer to their own work as "luminism", nor did they articulate any common painting philosophy outside of the guiding principles of the Hudson River school.

Luminism shares an emphasis on the effects of light with impressionism. However, the two styles are markedly different. Luminism is characterized by attention to detail and the hiding of brushstrokes, while impressionism is characterized by lack of detail and an emphasis on brushstrokes. Luminism preceded impressionism, and the artists who painted in a luminist style were in no way influenced by impressionism--nor were impressionists in France influenced by luminism in America.

Leading American luminists

* Fitz Hugh Lane (1804 – 1865)
* David Johnson (1827 – 1908)
* John Frederick Kensett (1816 – 1872)
* James Augustus Suydam (1819 – 1865)
* Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823 – 1880)
* George Caleb Bingham (1811 – 1879)
* Martin Johnson Heade (1819 – 1904)
* Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823 – 1900)
* Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900)


* [ Luminism article in ArtLex Art Dictionary]

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