The Beeches

Artist: Asher Brown Durand (American, Jefferson, New Jersey 1796–1886 Maplewood, New Jersey)

Date: 1845

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 60 3/8 x 48 1/8 in. (153.4 x 122.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Maria DeWitt Jesup, from the collection of her husband, Morris K. Jesup, 1914

Accession Number: 15.30.59

Description

This work, featuring meticulously rendered beech and basswood trees, was painted for the New York collector Abraham M. Cozzens, then a member of the executive committee of the American Art-Union. The painting illustrates a new trend in the work of the Hudson River School, with its diminished emphasis on sublime drama and increased interest in naturalism and in the creation of a tranquil mood. Durand was influenced by the work of the English landscape painter John Constable, whose vertical formats and truth to nature he absorbed while visiting England in 1840. "The Beeches" resembles Constable's "The Cornfield" (National Gallery, London). This work is also the first one Durand based on a plein-air oil sketch, a technique the artist increasingly relied upon to reproduce accurately conditions of light and shade.

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