Tonalism is a stylistic refinement of the American Barbizon manner in the 1880s characterized by static composition, color schemes of closely related tones, and a quiet, misty reverie. But De Haven clearly advanced beyond Tonalism in his best works, emphasizing a poetic, romanticized natural scene with a gold, silver and turquoise palette.
For nearly three quarters of a century Hudson River School painters had transformed on-the-spot studies into large, emotionally charged studio pieces which combined accurate topographic detail with an idealized, transcendental vision of landscape as direct evidence of the hand of God on earth. Light, as an aesthetic and a divine element, became increasingly important by mid-century, especially among the group of artists often referred to as Luminists. Thus, It is not surprising to find latter-day Hudson River School influences and an intense Barbizon or, perhaps more specifically, Tonalist, even Luminist sensibility in much of De Haven's work.
Emerging from this cultural milieu, American artists like William Morris Hunt, who traveled in France in the 1850s, were almost inevitably fascinated by the French artists Theodore Rousseau and Jean-Francois Millet, who were painting moody, low-keyed, protoimpressionist landscapes around the village of Barbizon. Hunt's influence as a teacher and painter was instrumental in creating an American Barbizon aesthetic. By the mid-1880s, East Hampton, Long Island had achieved the status of "The American Barbizon." A number of Tonalist painters were attracted to the New England coast between Newport, Rhode Island and Mystic, Connecticut.
Smillie was active at the National Academy of Design, where he became Secretary in 1892, and he helped introduce DeHaven to a number of pre-turn-of-the-century New York artists. DeHaven was admitted to membership in the NAD, where he went on to exhibit for nearly fifty years, and he was the recipient of the Silver Medal at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. DeHaven also associated with the Salmagundi painters and joined the loosely allied painters who summered in Old Lyme and Mystic, Connecticut. De Haven died in 1934.
Some of his paintings in Museums and Public Art Galleries Worldwide include:
The Butler Institute of American Art , Youngstown, OH
The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.