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Tonalism is an American painting movement characterised by a desire to use tonal differences in a scene to create atmosphere rather than taking the impressionist approach of emphasising colour. As a result, tonalist paintings often feature dramtic lighting conditions. 'Contre jour' (against the light) is also commonly used. American artists George Inness and James McNeil Whistler were two leading exponents. The French painters Corot, Daubigny and Millet provided inspiration for the American tonalists. The movement was active in the 1880's and 1890's, to be eclipsed by Impressionism. Contemporary painters continue to produce works in the tonalist manner.

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