ASHER BROWN DURAND (1796-1886), American painter and engraver, was born at South Orange, New Jersey, on the 21st of August 1796. He worked with his father, a watchmaker; was apprenticed in 1812 to an engraver named Peter Maverick; and his first work, the head of an old beggar after Waldo, attracted the attention of the artist Trumbull. Durand established his reputation by his engraving of Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence." After 1835, however, he devoted himself chiefly to portrait painting. He painted several of the presidents of the United States and many other men of political and social prominence. In 1840 he visited Europe, where he studied the work of the old masters; after his return he devoted himself almost entirely to landscape. He died at South Orange on the 17th of September 1886. He had been one of the founders of the National Academy of Design in 1826, and was its president in 1845-1861. Durand may be called the father of the Hudson River School. Although there was something hard and unsympathetic about his landscapes, and unnecessary details and trivialities were over-prominent, he was a well-trained craftsman, and his work is marked by sincerity.
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