The Art Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges just got a little larger with the addition of “Pro Patria,” a Hudson River school piece by Asher B. Durand. The painting, an oil-on-canvas created in 1860, was presented to Colleges’ President Mark D. Gearan by Trustee L. Thomas Melly.
Durand was born in what is now Maplewood, New Jersey in 1796. He was one of 11 children and he quickly learned the art of engraving from his father, a watchmaker and silversmith. After a falling out with his partner at an engraving firm, Durand added painting to his quickly growing repertoire of artistic skills. His work began to evoke the neoclassical and romantic styles popular at the time and he was soon commissioned to paint a series of presidential portraits.
As his fame continued to increase at home, Durand took a tour of Europe, painting the landscapes of the Continent and touring its artistic treasures. When he returned to America two years later, he brought his skills to bear on the landscapes of the Adirondacks, Catskills and the White mountains.
For the rest of his life, Durand would be known as America’s preeminent landscape painter and his work was exhibited across the country and purchased by many prominent institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and even the White House. Durand died in 1886.
“Pro Patria” will join other fine art in the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, including masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell and George Bellows. The painting will hang in the President’s House.