Asher Brown Durand, the son of a watchmaker and silversmith, served a five-year apprenticeship to an engraver, Peter Maverick, in Newark New Jersey. After completing his apprenticeship, he became a partner in the business. His reputation as an engraver was firmly established with the publication of his engraving after John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence in 1823. Between 1821 and 1831 Durand helped found the New York Drawing Association (1825), the National Academy of Design (1826), and the Sketch Club (1827). Also during this period, he formed a partnership with his brother, Cyrus, and Charles C. Wright which specialized in the production of bank notes.
In 1832 Durand dissolved his profitable engraving business and entered into a short, successful period as a portrait painter. A financial panic in 1837 combined with encouragement from Thomas Cole led him to try landscape painting.
He became the second president of the National Academy of Design in 1845, a position he held until his resignation in 1861. In 1847 he helped found the Century Association.
He visited the White Mountains as early as 1839, and again from 1855 to 1857. The Crayon for November 1856 noted, “Mr. Durand’s sketches of West Campton scenery, … are both larger and of a different character than his previous studies, being almost wholly confined to mountain views.”
The painting of Durand on this page was painted by Daniel Huntington in 1857 based on a trip to Franconia Notch in 1855 where Huntington accompanied Durand (see the Reference below).
Durand spent the rest of his life after 1857 painting in New York City. He died on September 17, 1886 and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.
Charles O. Vogel