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

Artist: After John Vanderlyn (American, Kingston, New York 1775–1852 Kingston, New York)

Date: ca. 1831–35

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 17 1/8 x 19 3/8 in. (43.5 x 49.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Samuel P. Avery, 1897

Accession Number: 97.29.2


Before he became a painter, Durand was considered the foremost engraver in the United States. His usual procedure was to start by making a copy in oils of the work to be engraved that was equal in size to the intended print. "Ariadne" is one such copy, made after a large history painting by John Vanderlyn (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia). Ariadne was a Cretan princess briefly loved by Theseus. He abandoned her, however, on the island of Naxos, and she is shown here in her desolation. Durand’s copy modified Vanderlyn’s crisp Neoclassicism, infusing it with a romantic softness and compensating for prudish American tastes by rendering the drapery opaque.