32¢ Asher B. Durand
Four Centuries of American Art
Issue Date: August 27, 1998
City: Santa Clara, CA
Printed By: Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
Born on August 21, 1796 in Jefferson Village, New Jersey, Asher B. Durand was one of the most influential artists of the early 19th century.
Durand’s career began as an apprentice to an engraver around 1812, and by 1823 he had already made a name for himself with his reproduction of John Trumbull’s painting Declaration of Independence.
Soon Durand, along with his brother Cyrus, started a banknote engraving company. It was the perfect partnership – Cyrus invented new machines for mechanical drawing, and Asher engraved the currency. In fact, some of Asher’s designs were so attractive, they established many of the ornamental designs used on American paper currency today.
By 1835, Durand decided to devote himself entirely to becoming a portrait painter. After painting the likenesses of several prominent political figures, he traveled to Europe for a year to study the old masters.
Upon his return, Durand began to paint vast landscapes. In fact, he is known as one of the first American artists to paint nature from “out of doors.” One of his most famous scenes, Kindred Spirits (1849) depicts two friends, Thomas Cole and William Cullen, high atop a rocky ledge in the Catskill Mountains.