Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886)
Oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 25 3/8 in. (76.5 x 64.5 cm)
Bequest of Mary Fuller Wilson, 1962 (63.36)
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.