The First Harvest in the Wilderness
Asher B. Durand
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Visions and Myths of a Nation, 1800–1890
Although not a scene of the American West, this painting can be interpreted within the context of the artistic perpetuation of the notion of Manifest Destiny. Here the American wilderness yields to progress as a lone farmer reaps his first harvest in a field, still dotted with the stumps of recently cleared trees. A boulder resting by the side of the road identifies him by name as “Graham.”
Using funds bequeathed by one of its founders, Augustus Graham, the Brooklyn Museum commissioned Asher B. Durand to paint this work in 1855, thus officially establishing its collection of American art. Durand’s dramatic landscape pays tribute to Graham’s efforts as a cultural pioneer.
Oil on canvas
31 5/8 x 48 1/16 in. (80.3 x 122 cm)
Frame: 43 1/2 x 59 1/2 x 4 3/4 in. (110.5 x 151.1 x 12.1 cm)
Signed lower center: "A B Durand, pt. / 1855"
Inscribed on boulder, lower right: "Graham"
Transferred from the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences to the Brooklyn Museum
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