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Durand, Asher Brown (21 August 1796–17 September 1886), engraver and painter, was born in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey, the son of John Durand, a watchmaker and silversmith, and Rachel Meyer Post. Following five or six years of study at the village public school and summers spent working in his father’s shop, where he learned engraving, from 1812 to 1817 he was apprenticed to the New Jersey engraver Peter Maverick. In 1817 he formed a partnership with Maverick and opened a branch of the firm in New York. Around 1818 Durand began informal study and drawing from plaster casts at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York, where his work came to the attention of the academy’s president, ...

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Hassam, Childe (17 October 1859–27 August 1935), painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, was born Frederick Childe Hassam in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Frederick Fitch Hassam, an antiques dealer and cutlery merchant, and Rose Delia Hawthorne. The family name was a derivation of the original Puritan name Horsham....

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Kent, Rockwell (21 June 1882–13 March 1971), artist, was born in Tarrytown Heights, New York, the son of Rockwell Kent, an attorney and mining engineer, and Sara Ann Holgate. Kent spent his infancy and early childhood in privileged circumstances, at family homes in Tarrytown, New York City, and on Long Island. When he was five his father died, and henceforth family resources were limited. Kent was not told of his father’s death and had to infer the news himself; when his suspicions were confirmed he reacted angrily and began misbehaving. To improve his behavior, his mother sent him to a military boarding school when he was ten, with the help of scholarships and financial assistance from an aunt who noticed his nascent artistic talent....

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Moran, Thomas (12 January 1837–25 August 1926), artist, was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, the son of Thomas Moran, a weaver, and Mary Higson. In 1844 Moran left England with his mother and siblings to join his father, who had recently immigrated to Philadelphia. After an elementary education, he was indentured in 1853 to a wood engraving firm, a position he left in 1856. Moran then worked closely with his elder brother ...

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Pennell, Joseph (04 July 1857–23 April 1926), etcher, lithographer, and illustrator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Larkin Pennell, a shipping clerk, and Rebecca A. Barton. The family came from a long line of Quaker farmers. He left the family farm for a shipping office in Philadelphia, where he spent his early years. Influenced by the work of American artists exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art during the centennial year in 1876, he made an early decision to become an illustrator, much to the disquiet of his parents. Having failed to gain admission to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, he became a clerk at the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company and attended drawing classes in the evening at the newly founded Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art. He was an industrious student, practicing his drawing during quiet moments at the office. He also studied etching and lithography at the school, under the supervision of the architect Charles Marquedant Burns. Burns’s enlightened teaching methods led Pennell to regard him as an early mentor....

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Sartain, Emily (17 March 1841–17 June 1927), art educator and painter/printmaker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Sartain, a mezzotint engraver, and Susannah Longmate Swaine. Sartain, one of two daughters and five sons, grew up in a family in which her father trained her brothers as professional artists. Socially prominent Unitarians and Associationists, her parents encouraged her to attend Philadelphia Normal School for Girls. When she began to teach public school upon graduation in 1858, she joined a predominantly female profession....

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Shahn, Ben (12 September 1898–14 March 1969), painter and graphic artist, was born Benjamin Shahn in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, the son of Hessel Shahn, a carpenter and woodcarver, and Gittel Lieberman. Kovno was located in the area of czarist Russia known as the Pale of Settlement, where Russian Jews were legally allowed to settle. In 1906 the family was forced to flee the pogroms, government-sponsored massacres of Jews, that swept through the Pale at the turn of the century. They took refuge in the United States and settled in Brooklyn. In 1913 Shahn was taken out of school and began an apprenticeship as a lithographer at Hessenberg’s Lithography Shop in Manhattan. During the next four years he not only mastered the skill of lettering but also developed a distinctive, incised line that would become a hallmark of his later work as a painter and graphic artist. During his apprenticeship he also attended night school in order to complete his high school diploma and enrolled briefly, in November 1916, in classes at the Art Students League in New York....