John Casilear (1811-1893)

John Casilear (1811-1893)

Like Asher B. Durand and John Kensett, John Casilear started his career as an engraver. He was a pupil under Peter Maverick and Durand, and became a designer of banknotes, a profession that allowed him the use of his creative talents as well as receive a steady income. In 1840, Casilear traveled to Europe with Durand and Kensett to pursue painting, and progressed rapidly under their tutelage. He soon became a frequent exhibitor at the National Academy of Design and became a full Academician in 1851. 

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During the summer seasons, Casilear continued to paint with friends in the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the White Mountains, and the Genesee Valley. In 1854, due to his success as an engraver, he was able to retire and pursue full time his passion for painting. After a lengthy trip to Switzerland, Casilear’s Swiss views began to intersperse with his characteristic landscapes of the American Northeast. In 1876, a critic for The Art Journal commented that his Alpine landscapes showed “…the more subtile [sic] features of colour, light and shade, and tone. His pictures when sent from the easel are as harmonious as a poem, and it is this perfect serenity in their handling which is so attractive to connoisseurs.”

Casilear was just as successful a landscape painter as he was an engraver, and was soon well-known and active in New York’s artistic circles. He lived with Kensett at the Waverly House in New York City, later moving to the newly completed Tenth Street Studio Building, and was a member of the National Academy, the Century Association and the Artists’ Fund Society. Casilear’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, the New York Historical Society and the Peabody Institute.

References: See Who Was Who In American Art (1999). “American Painters- John W. Casilear,” The Art Journal, Jan., 1876. American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

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