Durand, Ariadne, 1835 - Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) engraved this print in 1835 after a painting by John Vanderlyn (1775-1852), Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos, 1809-1814 [record]. It was praised by the New York Spectator(October 15, 1835) as “decidedly, the finest example of line engraving ever produced in this country.” Vanderlyn was in Paris when he became interested in the nude as a subject. He worked on this life-sized composition of Ariadne for several years before exhibiting it in the United States in 1815. It caused a sensation, but no sale until 1834, when Durand, bought it and painted the scaled-down copy on which he based one of the last great engravings of his career. He soon discovered that Americans of the 1830s were no more receptive to Ariadne than those of 1815, and the engraving was a commercial failure. Shortly,Durand turned to landscape painting.
In 1895 the engraving was exhibited at the Grolier Club. “The rendering of the flesh” was described in the catalog as “particularly successful. There was not only a daring boldness in essaying such work at that time, when the community hid its face from the delineation of the human figure, but there was a nobility of purpose that carried the artist through … and must win our admiration.” The print has been cataloged and scanned as part of “Prints in the Parlor.” Asher B. Durand, Ariadne (New York: Durand; London: Hodsgon, Boys & Graves; Paris: Rittner and Goussil [i.e. Goupil]). Printed by Aaron King, 1835. Engraving, third state; image and text 40 x 45.5 cm.; sheet 43.5 x 52 cm. Purchased from the William Reese Company. Richard A. Heald Fund, support from Peter Dumaine, and partial gift of William S. Reese.
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