In the Woods

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

Date: 1855

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 60 3/4 x 48 in. (154.3 x 121.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift in memory of Jonathan Sturges by his children, 1895

Accession Number: 95.13.1


This monumental painting departs from the pastoral treatment of Durand’s earlier works to celebrate the shadowy solitude of the deep woods. Living and dead trees rise from the fertile decay of the forest floor. In the summer of 1854, Durand had made plein-air studies in the Catskill Mountains in preparation for this work, and while it was on view at the National Academy of Design, the artist published his acclaimed “Letters on Landscape Painting.” In the third installment, he wrote, “That is a fine picture which at once takes possession of you—draws you into it—you traverse it—breathe its atmosphere—feel its sunshine, and you repose in its shade without thinking of its design or execution, effect or color.”