Asher B. Durand was born in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey to a farming family, the eighth of eleven children. His first artistic training was from his father, a watchmaker and silversmith, who instructed his son in his trade and in copperplate engraving. Durand worked as a successful engraver for several years. In 1831 he was commissioned to paint portraits for the National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, thus marking his professional entry into the world of painting. At this time his style evolved from a linear, neoclassic approach into a looser, more romantic style.