Luman Reed (1785-1836)

Object Number: 
Oil on canvas
Overall: 30 x 25 in. ( 76.2 x 63.5 cm ) Frame: 39 1/2 x 34 1/2 x 4 1/4 in. (100.3 x 87.6 x 10.8 cm)
Gallery Label: 
Luman Reed established himself as a successful New York merchant in the 1820s and soon became a pioneering patron of the fine arts, opera and theater in the city. As his wealth grew, he became a serious collector of American and European art, which he displayed in a gallery in his Manhattan townhouse. His interest in native and natural art and devoted patronage to artists such as Durand, Thomas Cole and William Sidney Mount helped foster an artistic culture of American artists painting American subjects. Eight years after Reed’s death, a group of investors purchased his collection and created the New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, conceived as a permanent art collection. In 1858, the gallery’s holdings, including Reed’s collection as well as paintings donated by other American artists, were donated to the New-York Historical Society. Born in what is now known as Maplewood, New Jersey, Asher Durand (1796-1886) studied engraving with his father before serving as apprentice to the engraver Peter Maverick from 1812 to 1817. By the 1820’s and 1830’s, Durand was a successful printmaker and engraver, helping to organize the New York Drawing Association, which became the National Academy of Design in 1826. Encouraged by Luman Reed (1785-1836), Durand eventually gave up engraving in favor of painting portraits and genre scenes. By the 1840’s, after being inspired by the painter Thomas Cole (1801-1848), Durand devoted himself to landscape painting, assuming a leading role in the American landscape school, and exerted considerable influence upon younger painters. Durand's original portrait of Reed was painted in 1835 for Reed's business partner Jonathan Sturges and given by the latter's heirs in 1895 to the New York Chamber of Commerce, of which the Reed had been a member. The Society's replica was painted by Durand so that a likeness of the founder of the collection might be included among the eighty paintings that formed the New York Gallery of Fine Arts. Another replica is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"National Academy," The New York Herald, New York, May 27, 1836, p. 1. Morris, G. P., ed., "National Academy of Design," The New-York Mirror, A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts, Vol. XIII, June 25, 1836, p. 414. Morris, G. P., ed., "National Academy of Design," The New-York Mirror, A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts, Vol. XIV, August 20, 1836, p. 62. Tuckerman, Henry T., Book of the Artists, American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists: Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America, New York: P. Putnam & Son, 1867, p. 621. Sheldon, G. W., American Painters: With Eighty-Three Examples of Their Work Engraved on Wood, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1879, pp. 129-30. Huntington, Daniel, Asher B. Durand: A Memorial Address, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1887, p. 22. "Pictures by Durand," The New York Times, April 26, 1903, p. 34. Tolman, Ruel P., "Asher Brown Durand," Art in America, Vol. 11, No. 4, June 1923, pp. 196-200. Sherman, Frederic Fairchild, Early American Portraiture, New York: Privately Printed, 1930, pp. 38-41. Howe, Winifred E., A History of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: With a Chapter on the Early Institutions of Art in New York, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1946, pp. 62-7. Lawall, David B., Asher Brown Durand: His Art and Art Theory in Relation to his Times, Submitted to Princeton University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, March 1966, pp. 63, 140, 149-52, 159-62, 192-4, 610, 614, 616, 620. Catalogue of American Portraits in The New-York Historical Society, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974, Vol. 2, p. 655. Lawall, David B., Asher B. Durand: A Documentary Catalogue of the Narrative and Landscape Paintings, New York & London, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1978, p. xiii, xviii. Lynes, Russell, "Luman Reed: A New York Patron," Apollo, Vol. 107, No. 192, 1978, pp. 124-9. Mann, Maybelle, "The New-York Gallery of Fine Arts: 'A Source of Refinement,'" American Art Journal, Vol. XI, January 1979, p. 76. Gerdts, Abigail Booth, "Newly Discovered Records of the New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, The Archives of American Art Journal, Vol. 21, No. 4, 1981, pp. 2-9. Foshay, Ella M., Luman Reed's Picture Gallery: Pioneer Collection of American Art, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990, Frontispiece. Caldwell, John and Roque, Oswaldo Rodriguez, American Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vol. I, A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born by 1815, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, pp. 412-4. Foshay, Ella M., and Novak, Barbara, Intimate Friends: Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, William Cullen Bryant, New York: The New-York Historical Society, 2000, p. 53. Vedder, Lee A., "Heeding the Call of Nature: The Art of Asher Brown Durand," The New-York Journal of American History, New York: New-York Historical Society, Vol. LXV, No. 4, Fall 2004, pp. 44, 47. Ferber, Linda S., ed., "Asher B. Durand, American Landscape Painter," Kindred Spirits Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape, Brooklyn Museum, 2007, pp. 77-8, 81.
Credit Line: 
Gift of The New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts
Luman Reed, d. 1836; Mrs. Luman Reed, New York, 1836-44; New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, 1844-58.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group