Asher B. Durand (1796–1886) began his long career in the Hudson River School under the guidance of his mentor, Thomas Cole (1801–1848). Influenced by the death of Cole in 1848 and other factors, Durand turned to the William Cullen Bryant poem, “Thanatopsis.” Durand’s Landscape—Scene from ‘Thanatopsis,’ an expansive allegory with a farmer and a funeral in the foreground illuminated by a sunrise, offers reassurance with its vision of nature’s paradisiacal beauty. The Christianized sublimity of this allegorical Durand painting reveals a hopeful vision for a heavenly paradise. This essay explores the significance of Durand’s 1850 painting in conjunction with Bryant’s “Thanatopsis,” a study Durand composed, Classical Landscape (Imaginary Landscape c. 1850), his 1855 Letters on Landscape Painting, as well as Durand’s 1862 repainting of the canvas.
Religion and the Arts – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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