Biography: Hudson River School painter Asher B. Durand is most famous for his meticulous paintings of the American landscape, especially the mountains of New York and New England. Durand was born in Maplewood, New Jersey, and apprenticed to an engraver as a teen. He engraved well known paintings including John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence in 1823 and became the manager of a firm's New York branch. He helped organize the New York Drawing Association in 1825, which would become the National Academy of Design. Durand served as president of the Academy from 1845 to 1861. Around 1830, at the encouragement of his patron Luman Reed, Durand shifted his focus from engraving to oil painting. As a painter, he believed in drawing directly from nature and was particularly respected for his detailed depiction of the plants and rocks of the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.