Asher B. Durand, Trees on a Rocky Hilside, c. 1849
From the Cleveland Museum of Art:
Inspired by the pictures of Thomas Cole, a forty-four- year-old Durand abandoned his career as an engraver and turned to landscape painting. While Cole’s paintings moralize and reflect on the meaning of history, Durand adopted a more straight-forward realism based on his close, intense observation of nature. Tress on a Rocky Hillside is an early example of a true outdoor sketch and reveals how this new practice led to effects that look strikingly different from earlier landscapes. Rocks and trees are cropped in an unusual manner, and light is diffused and scattered, as it really appears in nature. Compared with the grand panoramas of the Hudson River School, Durand’s painting seems refreshingly free from formula or convention.