DURAND, Asher Brown
(b. 1796, Springfield Township, d. 1886, Maplewood)


American painter and engraver. He played a leading role in formulating both the theory and practice of mid-19th-century American landscape painting and was a central member of the Hudson River School. Five years older than Thomas Cole, he matured considerably later as an artist. After an apprenticeship (1812-17) with Peter Maverick, he began his career as an engraver, attaining eminence with plates after John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence (1820-23) and John Vanderlyn's Ariadne (1835), the latter so accomplished that the chronicler William Dunlap claimed it would win Durand immortality as an engraver. As with many contemporary artists, his training was based on drawing, an experience that influenced his insistence on the importance of outline and precise rendering.

After 1835, Durand devoted himself to painting, producing portraits of several of the Presidents. After a year of travel and study in Europe, he turned to landscape painting, becoming a leader of the Hudson River school. At first he was painstaking and meticulous, but later his rendering became more spontaneous. Examples of his work are In the Woods and The Beeches (Metropolitan Museum); Woodland Brook and Franconia Notch (New York Public Library); and Mountain Forest (Corcoran Gallery). Durand was a founder of the National Academy of Design, New York City, and its president from 1845 to 1861. Two of his allegorical paintings are there, Morning of Life and Evening of Life.