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John Driscoll

(b New York, June 25, 1811; d Saratoga Springs, NY, Aug 17, 1893).

American engraver, draughtsman and painter. At 15 he was apprenticed to the engraver Peter Maverick (1780–1871) and then to Asher B. Durand. Casilear and his brother George formed a business partnership that eventually developed into the American Bank Note Co., the principal private bank-note engravers in America. He was perhaps the most fluent and accomplished draughtsman of his generation, and important collections of his landscape drawings are in the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Casilear was an exponent of the Hudson River school of landscape painting. Such works as Lake George (1860; Hartford, CT, Wadsworth Atheneum) and his views of Genesee Valley, NY, and Niagara Falls manifest the refined colour, restrained brushwork and ordered composition typical of that group. Casilear’s compositions are firmly drawn and articulated through a subtle palette that explores the value and saturation of hues.

In 1833 Casilear was elected an Associate at the National Academy of Design, New York, based on his engravings and in ...


J. Gray Sweeney

(b Springfield Township, NJ, Aug 21, 1796; d Maplewood, NJ, Sept 17, 1886).

American painter and engraver. Durand has long been considered a key figure of the Hudson River school of American landscape painting. Durand was born into a working-class family, the eighth of eleven children, in Maplewood, NJ (then called Jefferson Village), and died in his father’s house at age 90. His father was a watchmaker and silversmith, and in 1812 Durand was apprenticed to the engraver Peter Rushton Maverick. Durand achieved his first success by engraving John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence (1823), and he engraved Ariadne (1835) after John Vanderlyn’s painting (1812). He also was commissioned to engrave banknotes. In 1825 he played an important role in organizing the New York Drawing Association, which eventually became the National Academy of Design. He remained active in the Academy’s affairs throughout his career. Durand first began painting in the 1830s, producing portraits of leading historical and literary figures. In ...


John Driscoll

(b Cheshire, CT, March 22, 1816; d New York, Dec 14, 1872).

American painter and engraver. Born into a family of skilled engravers, he learnt the craft first from his father, Thomas Kensett (1786–1829), and then from his uncle Alfred Daggett (1799–1872). From this training he acquired the consummate skill that made him an exceptional draughtsman. The engraver’s attention to tonal modulation of the grey scale also contributed to Kensett’s extraordinary exploration of colour values and saturation in his paintings (see fig.).

In 1840, in the company of Asher B. Durand, John Casilear, and Thomas Rossiter (1818–71), Kensett went to Europe, where he remained for seven years, studying Old Master works and developing his skills as a painter in London, Paris, and Rome. On his return to America, he was immediately recognized as one of the most gifted painters of his time. He was soon elected an associate (1848) and then a full member (...


Phyllis Braff

(b Bolton, Lancs, Feb 12, 1837; d Santa Barbara, CA, Aug 26, 1926).

American painter, printmaker, and illustrator, of English birth. His brothers Edward (1829–1901), John (1831–1902), and Peter (1841–1914) were also artists. The family emigrated from England and settled in Philadelphia in 1844. At age 16 Moran was apprenticed to the wood-engraving firm Scattergood and Telfer, but he also began to produce watercolours that sold well. In an exchange arrangement with a book dealer, Moran acquired editions of important engravings, including Claude Lorrain’s Liber Veritatis and J. M. W. Turner’s Liber Studiorum. These served as formative influences for his career as a landscape painter, and contributed to his lifelong concern with pictorial structure and compositional devices. His study of oil painting was guided by his brother Edward, and by Edward’s acquaintance, the marine painter James Hamilton.

Moran’s interest in evocative natural settings led to a trip to Lake Superior in 1860 and to a series of paintings and prints featuring that region’s dramatic configurations of rocks and shoreline. In ...