biography of John DURAND (1731-1802)

Profession: Portrait and figure painter; teacher of drawing and watercolor painting

Work: NYHS (Rapalje children, c.1768); Museum of the City of New York (The Rays); New Haven Colony Hist. Soc.; Baltimore Museum of Art; William and Mary College; Shelburne (VT) Mus.

Comments: Active 1766-82. Probably a descendant of French Huguenots who settled in Connecticut (the name appears occasionally as Duran), he is first heard of in 1766 when he painted portraits of the six children of James Beekman of NYC. In 1767-68 he advertised in NYC as a drawing and painting teacher and sought patronage for a projected series of historical paintings. After a brief visit to Milford (CT), he went to Virginia in June 1770. In 1777-78 a John Durand of London exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy; this may be the same artist, although the American Durand is not known to have painted landscapes. By 1781 Durand was again in Virginia painting immense numbers" of portraits which, though "hard and dry," appear to have been "strong likenesses" (Dunlap). He was still in Virginia in 1782 but of his later career nothing is known.

Sources: G&W; White, The Beekmans of New York; Kelby; Gottesman, I; Antiques, LI (1947), 174-75, repro.; Oberlin College, Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, III (1946), 69; Virginia Gazette, June 7 and 21, 1770; William and Mary Quarterly, II (1893/94), 31; Graves, Dictionary; William and Mary Quarterly (1929), 215-16; Dunlap, History, I, 144; Flexner, The Light of Distant Skies; Thorne, "America's Earliest Nude?" Saunders and Miles, 296-97; Muller, Paintings and Drawings at the Shelburne Museum, 60 (w/repro.)"