Asher Brown Durand’s “Early Morning at Cold Spring” painting depicts the village of Cold Spring, situated along the Hudson River in upstate New York, and has been exhibited since 1850. The painting was inspired by William Cullen Bryant’s poem “Thanatopsis” and is known for its vivid display of colors, sharp brushstrokes, and use of light to portray a sense of eternal beauty.
The painting showcases Durand’s ability to harmoniously blend symbolism with realism. In the foreground, a funeral procession takes place while in the background; farmers cultivate their land, producing signs of living amidst death. The ruins in ancient nature illustrate how human life comes and goes but nature remains permanent.
Durand uses natural objects like trees; rocks bring forth a sense of grandeur as well as fragility to life. This style reflects the poem’s message that humans should embrace their mortality because it is part of something much larger than themselves.