Asher Brown Durand
Asher Brown Durand is considered to be the leading American landscape painter after Thomas Cole. His work embodied the naturalism of the artists known as the Hudson River School. Durand was born in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey and first worked for his father, who was a watchmaker and silversmith. He then apprenticed with the engraver Peter Maverick. A dispute over a commission that he took on the side, to engrave John Trumbell\’s The Declaration of Independence, led to him to leave Maverick, but this work also established his reputation. Engravings at this time were a way to publicize a painting. Durand\’s engravings were also used on some of the first American postage stamps.
In the 1830s Durand became known for his large paintings including portraits. After a sketching trip to the Adirondacks he turned to landscapes, and this work helped define the Hudson River School. He believed in sketching directly from the environment, and that nature was a manifestation of God. The artist was also one of the founders of the New York Drawing Association in 1925, the organization became the National Academy of Design, and he served as its president from 1845 to 1861.