About the Artwork

With Cole's untimely death in 1848, Hudson River School artists rising to prominence at mid century found a new leader in Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886). Forsaking a successful career as a steel engraver, Durand had turned his attention to landscape painting in 1837, compelled by the first of many summer sketching expeditions he took with Cole to the Adirondack, Catskill, and White mountains. Durand shared with his friend and mentor a belief in the nobility of the virgin American landscape, redolent of divine promise, and set out to capture its essence in minute detail. His aesthetic vision, while beholden to Cole's, was decidedly less historic and allegorical and far more sensory and immediate. For Durand, it was the "common details" of nature, spotted in situ in the wilderness, that inspired him most. He experienced his communion with nature as a spiritual journey; making the sketches and paintings he produced acts of personal devotion. We see in his nature studies, both in graphite and in oil, a clear, reverent eye intent on recording nature's particulars so as to convey both the look and feel of direct experience. The geological and botanical fidelity exhibited in Rocks and Trees corresponds with a fundamental tenet of Durand's landscape philosophy - truth to Nature - outlined in his 1855 Letters on Landscape Painting. He wrote, "I have already advised you to aim at direct imitation as far as possible, in your studies of foreground objects. You will be most successful in the more simple and solid materials, such as rocks and tree trunks, and after these, earth banks and the coarser kinds of grass, with mingling roots and plants, the larger leaves of which can be expressed with even botanical truthfulness; and they should be so rendered, but when you attempt masses of foliage or running water, anything like an equal degree of imitation becomes impracticable."

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NYHistory Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the New-York Historical Society. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

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