John Durand (painter)

John Durand (active 1765–1782) was a colonial American portraitist. With John Mare, Abraham Delanoy, and Lawrence Kilburn, he was one of a number of portraitists living and full of zip in New York City during the 1760s.

Nothing is known of Durand's origins, training or upbringing, as is often the act with colonial American painters. As he is referred to in two substitute known sources as "monsieur Duran" it has been assumed that he was of French descent. This assumption has been bolstered by the rococo colors used in his paintings, which some sources have taken to suggest that if not born in France he was at least trained there. It appears more likely, however, that he is the same "John Durand" that was apprenticed to Charles Catton in London on September 15, 1760, for a seven-year term. Just gone Durand emigrated is unknown; he is first recorded in Virginia in 1765, but by 1766 was in New York City, where an right of entry in the account book of James Beekman archives payment to the player for portraits of the six Beekman children. In 1767 he advertised the commencement of a drawing college in New York, on Broad Street. New York remained his base of operations for some years, although signatures upon a number of portraits indicate that he returned to Virginia in 1769, 1771, 1775, and 1780. According to his nephew, Robert Sully, he was prolific there; Sully wrote of him that "He painted an Big number of portraits in Virginia; his works are hard and dry, but appear to have been mighty likenesses, with less nastiness of style than artists of his calibre generally possess." He is known to have traveled to Connecticut twice for work; a 1768 advertisement from the Connecticut Journal survives, and suggests that he planned upon a sojourn of at least a few months in the colony. A trip to Bermuda is as well as known. By 1770 he was in Virginia, working in Williamsburg and vanguard in Petersburg. Durand drops out of sight as an performer after 1775, when he signed and old-fashioned a pair of portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Gray Briggs of Dinwiddie County, Virginia. It has been suggested that he remained in Virginia, as the only additional references to him after that dwindling are a painting from Virginia antiquated 1781 and an right to use in the Dinwiddie County tax rolls of 1782. It has as well as been claimed that he was functional in Chesterfield County in 1780. One source claims that he returned to England after this point, an verification which does not appear to be supported anywhere else.

Durand has been described as the "most consistently delightful" of the painters committed in New York during the 1760s. His read to painting was linear and decorative, and suggests training as a decorative painter. Like many new painters of the grow old he maxim no infatuation to restrict himself to representational painting; a 1770 trailer from The Virginia Gazette reveals that he would "paint, gild, and varnish wheel carriages; and put coats of arms, or ciphers upon them." While vivacious in New York he described himself as a history painter, but no records paintings by his hand are known. Little is known of his artistic influences, but some scholars have seen in his later feign indication that he was aware with the paintings of John Singleton Copley, as he began more future attempts at modeling his figures in the mid-1770s. Certain stylistic peculiarities distinguish Durand's decree from that of extra painters; these augment a peculiar splayed display of fingers, in which one or two are lifted and divided from the rest. His female sitters hold a single flower in one hand, frequently near the bosom, and sometimes the flowers are turned upon their stems to appearance a star-shaped array of leaves.

Durand's earliest enduring works date to his time in New York; they are hence assured as to indicate that he had already had plenty practice as a portraitist, but no earlier paintings are known to exist. Besides the Beekman intimates he was known to extra prominent families in New York, including the Rays and the Rapaljes; his group portrait of The Rapalje Children, dating to all but 1768 and currently in the deposit of the New-York Historical Society, is widely adjudged his most successful work. Other permanent portraits append a pendant pair in the National Gallery of Art, a portrait in the Museum of the City of New York, and two unconnected works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A pair of portraits approved to Durand were sold by Sotheby's in 2014 for $389,000.

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