Art Term

Luminism

Luminism means roughly, the painting of light and is applied specifically to the American landscape painters of the Hudson River school from about 1830–70

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, ‘Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea’ 1871
James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea 1871
Tate
Georges Seurat, ‘Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp’ 1885
Georges Seurat
Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp 1885
Tate

Many of the paintings produced by the Hudson River school were dominated by intense and often dramatic light effects.

In British art a form of luminism underlies James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s ‘Nocturnes’. The term is also sometimes applied to neo-impressionist paintings in which the divisionist technique leads to a marked all over luminosity.