Asher Brown Durand (American, Jefferson, New Jersey 1796–1886 Maplewood, New Jersey)
Oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 25 3/8 in. (76.5 x 64.5 cm)
Bequest of Mary Fuller Wilson, 1962
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in 738
One of early America's great art patrons, the dry goods merchant Luman Reed of New York offered critical support to the careers of Durand, the landscape painter Thomas Cole, and the genre painter William Sidney Mount, and built a gallery in his house for the display of their work and that of the old masters. From Durand, Reed commissioned portraits of the nation's presidents and eventually encouraged the artist to abandon his original career as an engraver to become a painter. Still, he would not live to see Durand blossom as a landscape artist. Reed died untimely, just the year after the completion of this solid likeness. His passing was sorely mourned; Durand reminded Cole in a letter that Reed was "the man whose equal we shall never see again." The artist did not exaggerate, but Reed's partner, Jonathan Sturges, for whom this portrait was painted, became an important patron in his own right of Durand, Cole, and their colleagues.
Jonathan Sturges, New York, 1835–died 1872; his son, Frederick Sturges, by 1887–died 1917; his daughter, Mary Fuller Wilson, until died 1963