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The First Harvest in the Wilderness

Asher B. Durand

American Art

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.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1855
DIMENSIONS 31 5/8 × 48 1/16 in. (80.3 × 122 cm) frame: 43 3/4 × 59 1/4 × 4 1/4 in. (111.1 × 150.5 × 10.8 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower center: "A B Durand, pt. / 1855"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed on boulder, lower right: "Graham"
CREDIT LINE Transferred from the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences to the Brooklyn Museum
PROVENANCE 1855, commissioned from the artist by the Brooklyn Institute; 1897, gift of the Brooklyn Institute to the Brooklyn Museum.
Provenance FAQ
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886). The First Harvest in the Wilderness, 1855. Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 × 48 1/16 in. (80.3 × 122 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Transferred from the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences to the Brooklyn Museum, 97.12 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 97.12_PS1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 97.12_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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