Published: July 3, 2007
Beginning July 5, the National Academy Museum will join two other New York art institutions †the Brooklyn Museum and the New-York Historical Society †in honoring the accomplishments of pioneering American landscape painter Asher B. Durand, (1796‱886). The exhibition exploring Durand’s leadership as a founding member of the historic National Academy of Design in 1826 as well as its president for 16 years (1845‱861) and his impact on American art, will be on view through December 30.
“Asher B. Durand (1796‱886), Dean of American Landscape” will consist of 20 works, including paintings, prints, sculpture and manuscripts drawn from the academy’s permanent collection.
Several loans will document the widespread emulation of Durand’s work by other key artists including Rembrandt Peale (1778‱860) and Thomas Hotchkiss (1834‱869). A section of this exhibition will be devoted to the dissemination of Durand’s principles of art through reproductive engravings and the publication of his writings.
This exhibition is accompanied by nine major American landscapes, most of which have never before been seen in New York.
Included works by artists such as Frederic Edwin Church (1826‱900), Albert Bierstadt (1830‱902), Thomas Moran (1837‱926), George Innes (1825‱894), and Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847‱919), on loan from the Berkshire Museum in Massachusetts, will offer perspective on Durand’s legacy.
The National Academy’s presentation will feature Durand’s landmark “Morning of Life” and “Evening of Life,” both 1840, monumental canvases that embody the height of the Hudson River School’s allegorical mode and mark the artist’s maturity as a landscape painter.
The exhibition will shed light not only on the height and range of Durand’s own artistic practice as an engraver, portraitist and landscapist, but also on the range of this influence through his writing, teaching and guidance of the National Academy.
An inspiration to colleagues, students of art and patrons alike, Durand directed the National Academy’s early expansion as it led the way toward the professionalization of American artistic practice during the 1840s and 1850s.
Championing the needs and interests of his peers, Durand established the academy’s place as the nation’s primary center for the appreciation, display, advocacy and study of American art.
The publication of his series of instructional “Letters on Landscape Painting” in the art journal The Crayon in 1855 solidified Durand’s reputation as the “Dean” of Hudson River School painting following the death of Thomas Cole in 1848.
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