ArtStory: An Old Man's Reminiscences

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ArtStory is like story time, but with art instead of a book. Join us for these short presentations on works from the museum's collection and have fun "reading" art! Interested in reading art on your own? Here are some tips to get you started!

ArtStory: An Old Man's Reminiscences

This ArtStory explores Asher B. Durand's 1845 painting "An Old Man's Reminiscences" (1900.5.3).

An Old Man's Reminiscences (1845) by Asher B. Durand

An Old Man’s Reminiscences Asher Brown Durand (1796–1886) 1845 Oil on canvas, 39 5/8 H x 58 1/4 W Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of the Albany Gallery of Fine Arts, 1900.5.3

This painting is currently on view in the exhibition The Hudson River School: Landscape Paintings from the Albany Institute

Exhibition label text:

Inspired by the poem “Deserted Village” (1770), by Englishman Oliver Goldsmith, An Old Man’s Reminiscences pictures a nostalgic reverie, a moment of reflective contemplation and assessment for the aged man seated in the shade at left. Asher B. Durand originally titled his painting Landscape Composition: “An Old Man’s Reminiscences, which indicates the scene was not based on an actual landscape, but was instead composed.

Durand painted few allegorical or narrative works, unlike his mentor Thomas Cole, who preferred painting imagined landscapes full of symbolism. Durand, instead, paid close attention to nature and generally painted what he saw. In the mid-1850s, he published a series of “Letters on Landscape Painting” in the art journal The Crayon, which clearly delineated his ideas and method of painting from nature. An Old Man’s Reminiscences was recognized as an important work and it was borrowed from the artist to show in the Albany Gallery of Fine Arts. The citizens of Albany so enjoyed the painting that they raised funds through a lottery to acquire the painting for the Gallery’s collection. In 1900, many of the Gallery’s paintings were given to the Albany Institute, including An Old Man’s Reminiscences.