John William Casilear


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Painter and engraver. A landscape specialist associated with the Hudson River School, he created serene, delicately detailed pastoral scenes. Subtle effects of atmosphere and light relate his work to luminism. Born on Staten Island, he was apprenticed as a teenager to New York printer Peter Maverick. In 1831 he joined the print shop of Asher B. Durand, who presumably also encouraged his interest in landscape painting. Later Casilear ranked among the foremost American engravers of banknotes, as well as other documents and works of art. He did not paint full time until the 1850s. In 1840 Casilear departed for England with Durand, John Kensett, and Thomas P. Rossiter. During three years abroad, he also toured the Continent, traveling part of the time with Durand. On a second European sojourn, in 1858, he visited Switzerland, which provided alpine motifs for a number of later paintings. He died at Saratoga Springs, New York. Casilear practiced an exquisitely refined form of Hudson River School painting. A shoreline view with several cows wading in the shallows, Lake George (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, 1860) exemplifies his unusually fine draftsmanship, as well as his typical bucolic subject matter, shimmering atmosphere, and tranquil mood. Without sacrificing his personal vision, in the last two decades of his life Casilear broadened his touch somewhat to accommodate the newly popular imported methods of Barbizon painting and even impressionism.

Subjects: Art.

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