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Asher Brown Durand Biography
American Hudson River School painter, engraver & printmaker
born 1796 - died 1886
Asher Brown Durand was born on August 21, 1796, in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey, and studied engraving with his father, a watchmaker and silversmith. From 1812 to 1817 Asher Brown Durand was apprenticed to the New Jersey engraver Peter Maverick. In 1817 he formed a partnership with Maverick and opened a branch of the firm in New York. Around 1818 he began informal study and drawing from plaster casts at the American Academy of Fine Art, where his painting came to the attention of the Academy's president, John Trumbull (1756-1843).
In 1820 Trumbull commissioned him to
engrave Asher Brown Durand painting The Declaration of
Independence (1787-1820, Yale University Art
Gallery). He became a leading engraver,
and enjoyed considerable success producing
bank notes, book illustrations, portraits,
and copies after other artists' paintings.
|Following Cole's death in 1848 Asher Brown Durand assumed a leading role in the American landscape school and exerted considerable influence on many younger painters. His Kindred Spirits of 1849 (New York Public Library), painted in memory of Cole, almost immediately became one of the best-known paintings in the country. By the 1850s Asher Brown Durand had perfected the two compositional types that became basic to Hudson River School painting, the vertical forest interior and the landscape panorama.|
With the publication of nine "Letters on
Landscape Painting" in the New York art
journal The Crayon in 1855, Asher Brown Durand codified
the tenets and practices of Hudson River
School as instructions addressed to an
imaginary student. Espousing theories
similar to those of the influential British
critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), Asher Brown
American artists to work directly from
nature and to give precedence to New World
subjects over European ones.
This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue
Daniel. Asher Brown Durand: A Memorial Address.
New York, 1887.
* Lawall, David B. Asher Brown Durand: His Art and Theory in Relation to His Times. New York, 1977.
* Lawall, David B. Asher Brown Durand: A Documentary Catalogue of the Narrative and Landscape Paintings. New York, 1978.
* Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 135-136.
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