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Barn Builders

Object Name: Genre
Date: 1836
Related People:
Medium: Oil on wood door panel
Dimensions: Overall: 20 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 1 1/4 in. (52.7 x 37.5 x 3.2 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Sturges III
Object Number: 1991.2.1
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"Barn Builders" is one of a series of door panels that the New York art collector Luman Reed (1785-1836) commissioned to enhance the overall appearance of the art gallery in his Manhattan townhouse. As was fashionable among other elite American collectors, the floor plan of Reed's gallery was a double parlor. Two small doors opened into each of the two rooms, and two larger doors divided the double parlor, all of which had recessed panels. With the passion of a true collector, Reed was not one to waste valuable space for displaying works of art and decided to fill the door recesses with original paintings. Calling on Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, George Whiting Flagg, and William Sidney Mount to contribute to the scheme, Reed commissioned panels of simple genre subjects, which were to be executed in a free and uncomposed manner. Fourteen of the original panel paintings survive, four of which are by Cole and the rest attributed to Durand. The New-York Historical Society acquired six of the surviving panels by Durand, including this one, through generous donations from descendents of Reed's family and that of his business partner, Jonathan Sturges. The other eight panels are dispersed among private collections and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.


Mr. Luman Reed, Mrs. Luman Reed Barker, Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Barber Fuller, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Sturges, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Sturges, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Sturges, III


Noble, Louis Legrand, The Life and Works of Thomas Cole, Hensonville, New York: Black Dome Press, 1964, pp. 155-65.

Parry, Elwood, Thomas Cole's "The Course of Empire": A Study in Serial Imagery, PhD Dissertation, Yale, 1970, pp. 70-3.

Lawall, David B., Asher Brown Durand: His Art and Art Theory in Relation to his Times, Submitted to Princeton University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, March 1966, pp. 68, 188-92. 620.

Lawall, David B., Asher B. Durand: A Documentary Catalogue of the Narrative and Landscape Paintings, New York & London, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1978, pp. 8-10.

Frankenstein, Alfred, William Sidney Mount, New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1975, pp. 69-70.

Koke, Richard J., American Landscape and Genre Paintings in the New York Historical Society, Vol. I, New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1982, pp. 304-6, 402-4.

Tufts, Eleanor, "Realism Revisited: Goya's Impact on George Bellows and other American Responses to the Spanish Presence in Art," Arts, No. 57, February 1983, PP. 105-13.

Foshay, Ella M., Luman Reed's Picture Gallery: Pioneer Collection of American Art, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990, pp. 38-9, 67-9, 205-6.

Burgard, Timothy Anglin, "New Discoveries in American Art," American Art Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1991, pp. 70-4.


"The Luman Reed Gallery," New-York Historical Society, November 13, 1990.

"The Luman Reed Gallery: A History of Art Collecting in 19th Century New York," New-York Historical Society, March 16, 2004.