Alexander Thomas Harrison
American Tonalist Painter
Education - He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and later at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris where he studied under Jean-Léon Gérome
Cause of Death - Old Age
Description of the Tonalist Painting Style and Technique
Tonalism is rooted in the French Barbizon movement, which emphasized atmosphere and shadow. The Tonalist style employs a distinctive technique by the use of color's middle values as opposed to stronger contrast and high chroma. Resulting in a understated and compelling overall effect. The tonalist subject matter is never entirely apparent; their is no effort to communicate a message or narrate a story. Instead of relating a story, each sensitively chosen color, composition, and line is arranged to create an intriguing visual poem.
The interiors of tonalist paintings are generally elegant and sparsely decorated, tonally uniform, simplified and indistinct; the figures are usually presented alone in silent contemplation. Landscapes are typically luscious and luminous with evocative atmospheric effects featuring misty backgrounds illuminated by moonlight. Tonalists painters were drawn to both the natural and spiritual realms. They sought to awaken the viewers consciousness by shrouding the subject in a misty indistinct veil of emotionalism. The palette is minimal, characterized by warm hues of brown, soft greens, gauzy yellows and muted grays. Preferred themes were evocative moonlight nights and poetic, vaporous landscapes. Tonalist painters seemed to favored unconscious states and psychological experiences over reality.
Principle Painters of Tonalism Movement
Key terms and phrase associated with the tonalist movement - obscured details, single-figure themes, the natural and spiritual domain, waking, unconscious states, sleep, dreams, death, aura, religious significance, emotionalism, emotionalists, pictorial space, compositional space, diffused light, incandescent glow, organic forms, artistic inspiration, illusionistic representation, luminous, transcendentalist, glowing, metaphysical, emotional expression, poetic, evocative
© HistoryofPainters.com If you like this page and wish to share
it, you are welcome to link to it, with our thanks.
If you feel you have worthwhile information you would like to
contribute we would love to hear from you. We collect essential
biographical information and artist quotes from folks all over
the globe and appreciate your participation. When submitting
please, if possible, site the source and provide English
translation. Email to
If you feel you have worthwhile information you would like to contribute we would love to hear from you. We collect essential biographical information and artist quotes from folks all over the globe and appreciate your participation. When submitting please, if possible, site the source and provide English translation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org