A History of American Tonalism, 3rd Edition

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Published by: Abbeville Press; Third edition
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Pages: 704
ISBN13: 978-0789214119


A groundbreaking survey of the school of expressive, symbolic landscape painting that gave rise to American modernism―newly revised and updated

This magnificent volume, featuring more than 750 illustrations, is the first definitive account of the Tonalist movement. Based on original research, it tells the fascinating story of how the progressive Tonalist landscape first dethroned the Hudson River School in the late 1870s and went on to become the dominant school in American art until World War I. More provocatively, it also situates Tonalism at the beginnings of American modernism, revealing how the movement’s later exponents laid the groundwork for the artists of the Stieglitz Circle, and subsequently Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, and Wolf Kahn.

A History of American Tonalism places the key figures of the movement―such as George Inness, James McNeill Whistler, and John Henry Twachtman―in their cultural context, which was influenced by such thinkers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, and William James. It also examines the lives and careers of more than sixty other Tonalist painters, lesser known but highly talented.

This new edition of A History of American Tonalism is augmented with more than one hundred new illustrations, as well as a new overview of the stylistic principles of Tonalism. It will continue to be essential in understanding not only the Tonalist movement but American art as a whole.

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Winner: Outstanding Academic Title 2011, American Library Association

Silver Medal Winner in Art History: Book of the Year Awards, 2010, ForeWord Magazine


“The first scholarly survey of the Tonalists. This volume, a landmark of scholarship, has uncovered some treasures and is likely to change our understanding of the development of American art.”
—The Art Newspaper, No. 222, March 2011

“Cleveland, whose writing is both elegant and accessible, gives the Tonalist discussion a shot of energy… This wonderfully written book will delight general audiences and scholars alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”
—CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

“Combining beautifully reproduced images of their works with eloquent stylistic analyses, he positions Tonalism as America’s most original, dominant, and progressive art style. This view radically challenges traditional American art history…a turning point of scholarship on the art and range of the Tonalist movement.”