Washington Allston (American, 17791843)
Oil on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
Gift of Lyman G. Bloomingdale, 1901 (01.7.2)
Allston explained the subject of this painting in a poem written to accompany its first exhibition. "Sweet Inez" awaits, on the spot of her betrothal, the return of her lover, Isidore, from war. Her quiet but emotional moment of reflection, or reverie, was a favorite subject for Allston and his European compatriots, the English Romantic poets Coleridge and Wordsworth. Allston returned numerous times to the ethereal, luminous facial type, perhaps based on a strikingly similar drawing of his first wife, Ann Channing, made before her death in 1815. The same sketch may have served as the basis for a number of other works, including Beatrice (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). The artist's approach to the landscape created great interest due to his dematerialization of the solid mountainous forms via a meticulous layering of diaphanous color.