Asher Brown Durand

(21 August 1796 - 17 September 1886)



Durand studied engraving in the shop of his father, a watchmaker, and apprenticed to Peter Maverick, the engraver, in 1812, becoming his partner in 1817. His "Declaration of Independence," alter Trumbull, first brought him into prominent notice as an engraver. He was one of the original members of the National Academy of Design, organized in 1826, and was on the first Exhibition Committee. He was elected president at the resignation of Professor Morse in 1845, a position he held until 1861. About 1835, he resolved to become a painter, and has since devoted himself to that branch of the profession. Among the better known of his earlier works are, "Harvey Birch and Washington", "The Wrath of Peter Stuyvesant," "The Capture of Andre," "Dance on the Battery," "The Forest Primeval," and "Franconia Mountains," many of which have been engraved. In 1869, he exhibited at the National Academy, "The Trysting-Tree," belonging to Benjamin H. Field, and "A Mountain Forest"; in 1870, "The Sketcher"; in 1871, "Close of Day"; in 1873, "Harbor Island, Lake George"; in 1874, "Franconia Notch," belonging to R. L. Stuart. Durand's "In the Woods," belonging to Jonathan Sturges, was at the Paris Exposition of 1867. To Philadelphia, in 1876, he sent "Studies from Nature,'' "Il Pappagallo"; in 1841, "Kaaterskill Clove," "A Brook Study," and a portrait of Governeur Kemble. He was commended by the Judges for "excellence in engraving." His "Alpine View near Meyringen," from the Leupp Collection, was sold at the Johnston sale for $625.


Asher Brown Durand, Henry Kirke Brown, Henry Peters Gray


"Cole and Durand may properly be termed the fathers of American landscape. They first effectually inspired the artistic mind with sympathies whose influence is still felt. Cole was truly a poet in sentiment, and his simple landscapes possess a charm which time does not mar. Durand likewise stimulated into activity that latent feeling for this branch of art which has become a marked feature of the American school, -- if the term is admissible, -- and his rendering of landscape is extremely sensitive and refined." -- Prof. Weir's Official Report of the American Centennial Exhibition of 1876..

"Durand's 'Lake George' [1875] is the production of an octogenarian whom American art and American artists honor Mr. Durand treats a landscape as a poet would treat it. He uses the majestic mountains, the placid lakes, the forest trees, to express the emotion which they have awakened in him; and he does this so simply, modestly, sincerely, skillfully, with such a delightful feeling for nature and for character, with such as pleasure in the harmony and beauty of forms and colors, with so much quickness of mind, so much catholicity of taste, that one is charmed by his recitals. If his landscapes do more than justice to the green color, it is only because he sees more of these colors than some artists see." -- New York Evening Post, November 9, 1877. [Artists of the Nineteenth Century, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.]



Mrs. Asher B. Durand_1835 Self-Portrait 1857

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DURAND, ASHER BROWN (1796-1886), American painter and engraver, was born at South Orange, New Jersey, on 21 August 1796. He worked with his father, a watchmaker; was apprenticed in 1812, to an engraver named Peter Maverick; and his first work, the head of an old beggar after Waldo, attracted the attention of the artist Trumbull. Durand established his reputation by his engraving of Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence." After 1835, however, he devoted himself chiefly to portrait painting. He painted several of the presidents of the United States and many other men of political and social prominence. In 1840, he visited Europe, where he studied the work of the old masters; after his return he devoted himself almost entirely to landscape. He died at South Orange on 17 September 1886. He had been one of the founders of the National Academy of Design in 1826, and was its president in 1845-1861. Durand may be called the father of the Hudson River School. Although there was something hard and unsympathetic about his landscapes, and unnecessary details and trivialities were over-prominent, he was a well-trained craftsman, and his work is marked by sincerity.

[Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8, 1911] div