Asher Brown Durand

(1796-1886)

Asher Brown Durand, born in 1796, was best known as the "father" of the Hudson River School of landscape due to his similar aesthetics and style. Durand studied with the engraver Peter Maverick from 1812-17 and was made a partner in 1820. Durand completed an engraving of John Trumbull's historical painting "Declaration of Independence", which launched his reputation nation wide. Durand went on to head three different engraving companies and had many pupils. In 1835, he gave up the business to paint, beginning with portraiture but soon moving to landscapes.

In 1840, Durand toured Europe and then went on a painting excursion to the Adirondacks, after which so he turned exclusively to landscapes. Durand wrote his nine famous "Letters on Landscape Painting", that was printed in The Crayon in 1855. These letters outlined the principals that characterized the Hudson River School. He urged students to peruse individual style and turn away from contrived drama. Durand viewed nature as its own subject, not just scenery. He believed that one should paint from direct observation, realistically, to reach the spiritual moment caught in nature. Durand's work reveals atmospheric affects with precise detail, a finished surface and almost invisible brushwork. Durand died in 1886.