Friday, August 3, 2012

Durand, Asher Brown

The Beeches (Les hetres)
Oil on canvas
153.4 x 122.2 cm (60 3/8 x 48 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

"The true province of Landscape Art is the representation of the work of God in the visible creation...." (Durand)

Asher Brown Durand (1796 - 1886) was an American painter of the Hudson River School. He was born in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey, the eighth of eleven children. His father was a watchmaker and a silversmith. He was apprenticed to an engraver. He engraved Declaration of Independence for John Trumbull in 1823, which established Durand's reputation as one of the country's finest engravers.

Around 1830, his interest shifted from engraving to oil painting. He spent summers sketching in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, making hundreds of drawings and oil sketches that were later incorporated into finished academy pieces which helped to define the Hudson River School. He is particularly remembered for his detailed portrayals of trees, rocks, and foliage. He was an advocate for drawing directly from nature with as much realism as possible. Like other Hudson River School artists, he also believed that nature was an ineffable manifestation of God.
He died on the family property in Maplewood, to which he had retired from active professional life in 1869.