The world of the artist in 18th century America & England was rather insular.
* ___ In London on September 15, 1760, John Durand, apprenticed for 7 years to decorative carriage & heraldry painter Charles Catton, Senior (1728-1798). (Public Records Office, London, IRI 1759, Folio 144) In the mid 1760s, apparently somewhat shy of the full 7 year commitment, student John Durand sailed for America, offering to paint inspiring historical paintings for the colonial populace, which was only interested in portraits
* ___ In London in 1768, John Durand's teacher Charles Catton Senior, was one of the founding members of the England's Royal Academy of Arts, along with Pennsylvania expatriate Benjamin West (1738-1820).
* ___ In London from 1767-1769, Pennsylvanian Benjamin West taught Marylander Charles Willson Peale, just as John Durand was leaving his apprenticship & sailing toward the colonies. All of this was occuring as Charles Catton Senior, Benjamin West, and 38 other artists & intellectuals were meeting together to organize the Royal Academy of Arts with Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), as its first president.
* ___ From London in the early 1800s, the artist son of the elder Charles Catton, Charles Catton Jr. immigrated to the United States, buying land in 1806, on the Hudson River in New York, where he farmed & painted occasionally, until he died in 1819.
* ___ In 1819, Charles Willson Peale painted Noah and His Ark (after Charles Catton) for his Philadelphia museum copied from the work of the immigrant English painter of animals & landscapes, Charles Catton, Jr. Peale chose to copy the painting, because it reflected his own theories about the harmony of art, religion, & nature in one painting. Peale began developing these ideas about art, when he was apprenticed to Benjamin West in London in 1767-1769. In London, young Peale visited Joshua Reynolds. He may have met Charles Catton Senior and perhaps young John Durand.
About painter John Durand in the American colonies and new republic...
John Durand first appeared in newpapers in the colonies in the spring of 1768; although he may have been painting in Virginia, before he advertised in New York. If he was painting in Virginia in 1765, he had certainly left his apprenticeship in London, before its contract expired. His advertisements reflect his decorative heraldry and carriage painting & staining apprenticeship, as well as his desire to become a history painter. In order to support himself, Durand settled for the common ground for a painter in the American colonies, he painted portraits.
It is reported that he placed an ad in the New York Journal on April 2, 1768, offering drawing instructions in New York. "Any young Gentleman inclined to learn the Principles of Design, so far as to be able to draw any objects and shade them with Indian Ink or Water Colours, which is both useful and ornamental may be taught by John Durand...at his House on Broad Street, near City Hall, for a reasonable Price.
Perhaps he did not attract any interested students. Just days later, he did place the following notice in several papers: April 11, 18, 25, & May 2, 1768 in the New York Gazette, or Weekly Post Boy. April 21 & May 5, 1768 in the New York Journal.The subscriber having from his infancy endeavoured to qualify himself in the art of historical painting, humbly hopes for that encouragement from the gentlemen and ladies of this city and province, that so elegant and entertaining an art has always obtain'd from the people of the most improved minds and best taste and judgment, in all polite nations in every age. And tho' he is sensible that o excel, (in this branch of painitng especially) requires a more ample fun of universal and accurate knowledge than he can pretend to, in geometry, geography, perspective, anatomy, expression of the passions, ancient and modern history, &c. &c. yet he hopes, from the good nature and indulgence of the gentlemen and ladies who employ him, that his humble attempts, in which his best endeavours will not be wanting, will meet with acceptance, and give satisfaction; and he proposes to work at as cheap rates as any person in America.
To such gentelmen and ladies as have thought but little upon this subject and might only regard painting as a superfluous ornament, I would just observe, that history painting, besides being extrememly ornamental has many important uses.--It presents to our view some of the most interesting scenes recorded in ancient or modern hisory, gives us more lively and perfect ideas of the things represented, than we could received from a historical account of them, and frequently recals to our memory a long train of events with which those representations were connected. They show us a proper expression of the passions excited by every event, and have an effect, the very same in kind (but stronger) that a fine historical description of the same passage would have upon a judiciouos reader. Men who have distinguished themselves for the good of their country and mankind, may be set before our eyes as examples, and to give us their silent lessons--and besides, every judicuous friend and visitant shares, with us in the advantage and improvement, and increases it value to ourselves.John Durand Near the City Hall, Broad Street
But after his May 5th notice in the New York papers, he had moved north rather suddenly. On May 13, 20, and 27, 1768, he placed the following noice in the Connecticut Journal.
John Durand, Portrait Painter, Intends to Stay in this Town part of the warm season. If any Gentlemen or Ladies, choose to hae thier Pictures Drawn, they may have them Drawn a good deal cheaper than has yet been seen; by applying to the Subscriber living at Captain Camp's House, where several of his Perfomances may be seen. And for more Conveniences of an Gentlemen or Ladies, that would have them Drawn at their Houses, he will wait upon them whenever they please if sent for.John Durand.
This announcement seems to imply that John Durand would be moving south, when the cold weather came to Connecticut. He was apparently somewhat unsuccessful as a portrait painter in New York and New England, although he did paint in Connecticut. From dates on his portraits & notes in account journals, he was working in Virginia in 1770-71, 1775, and 1780.
He advertised twice in Williamsburg, Virginia in the 1770s. On June 7, 1770 & June 21, 1770, he placed the following notice in the Virginia Gazette.
Portrait Painting. Gentlemen and Ladies that are inclined to have their pictures drawn will find the subscriber ready to serve them, upon very moderate terms, either for cash, short credit, or country produce. at their own homes or where he lives, which is next door to the Hon. The Speaker's. He will likewise wait upon Gentlemen and Ladies in the country, if they send for him.
He will also paint, gild, and varnish, wheel carriages and put coats of arms, or ciphers, upon them, in a neater and more lasting manner than was ever done in this country.
John Durand seems to disappear from American records in the 1780s. During the 1780s, John Durand may have returned to England partnered with Peter Alexander La Normand. During that period, they were haberdashers & perfumers & traveling merchants based in Leicester Fields in Middlesex County (London); until their bankruptcy in 1792, followed by John Durand's death in the London area of Carshalton, Surry Couty in 1793.
I look forward to learning more about John Durand's early years, and how he came to London to apprentice with Charles Catton Senior.
About painter John Durand's teacher and his artist son...
John Durand's teacher Charles Catton Senior (1728-1798) had arrived in London from Norwich, to apprentice to a London coach-painter named Maxfield, and he also studied in William Hogarth's St. Martin's Lane Academy. Catton Senior is chiefly known as a landscape & animal painter, but he also painted portraits, some of which were later engraved. He became a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists and exhibited various pictures in its London galleries from 1760 to 1768, while John Durand was his apprentice. The senior Catton had become an accomplished painter of heraldry. His work in this field was distinguished by his ability to represent the supporters of coats of arms as naturalistic animals as opposed to the traditional heraldic symbols.
Charles Catton Senior was one of the 40 founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts. The Royal Academy, or as it is often abbreviated, the RA, was founded in 1768 by a group of artists headed by painter Joshua Reynolds. The academy functioned as a school to teach drawing, painting, and sculpture to young artists.
It is evident from the works he exhibited at the Royal Academy that Charles Catton Senior retained close links with his native Norwich throughout his career, presumably through visits to his family of 35 siblings. He exhibited a number of views of Norwich Cathedral and, in 1789, A Morning View of Mou[se]hold Hill in Norfolk. His son Charles also exhibited Norwich & Norfolk subjects in 1779 & 1798, the year of his father’s death.
The elder Catton received the coveted appointment of heraldic sign & coach-painter to George III. Catton exhibited at the Royal Academy from the time of its founding to his death. (Heraldic painting was a respected & lucrative profession during this period. Another early member of the RA was John Baeer, a fellow sign & coach painter who had apprenticed with the elder Catton.)
In 1783, Catton the elder became master of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, of which his teacher Maxfield had also been a member. The senior Catton taught other students including English portrait painter William Owen (1769-1825), who began as an apprentice to Catton in 1786. Just like John Durand, Owen made his name as a portraitist & was also a member of the Royal Academy. The elder Catton died in Judd Place in London in 1798. The following watercolors by Charles Catton were found in Alabama and returned to Norwich, the home of his ancestors.
1790s-1820s Elizabeth Cartlich Caslon. Engraving by William Satchwell Leney (British/Canadian, 1769-1831) after a portrait by Charles Catton I (1728-1798).
Charles Catton Jr. (1756-1819) was taught to paint by his father. For a number of years, 1776–1781, Charles Catton, the younger, appears in the Royal Academy Catalogues as residing at his father's house in Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields in London, where his father lived from 1769 to 1793. The younger Catton criss-crossed England & Scotland making sketches. Some of his sketches were engraved & published. He was best known as a scene-painter & topographical draughtsman. He, too, exhibited at the Royal Academy 37 times from 1776 to 1800. After his father died, the younger Catton decided to leave London with his family and settle in America.
The New York Commerical Advertiser posted this obitualry on May 5, 1819.
"A few days since, at his seat at New-Paltz, in the county of Ulster, state of New York, Charles Catton, Esq., a native of the Kingdom of Great Britain, but for 18 an inhabitant of this state. He had been long accustomed to gout which succeeding to, or brought on by, a recent cold, terminated his existence after a fortnight's illness, at the age of 65 years. Mr. C. was an artist of superior rank and of distinguished merit, and very ably supported a just and eminent reputation acquired by his father, whose pupil he was, and who attained the honors of a Royal Academician, and serving until the days of his death, his present Majesty George the Third, as his heraldic painter. The subject of this obituary notice during his residence in the United States had devoted his attention principally to agricultural pursuits, and seldom exercised his pencil, except to gratify personal friendship, or enliven the dull monotony of a rural winter life. Some few of his latest productions have, through the instrumentality of friends, been recently brought to the notice of the public at the Academy of Arts in this city, as if by thus exhibiting his worth at the moment of privation, to make the lovers of the arts more sensibly feel the magnitude of their loss. He was much esteemed in private life as a scholar and a gentleman, and standing in the first rank of artists in this country, his death must be a subject of general regret."
About painter Charles Willson Peale and his teacher Benjamin West...
At the Washington home of Colonel George Bomford, Charles Willson Peale saw a "Picture of the Animals going into the Ark Painted by Mr. Catton," which he asked to borrow. On May 1, 1819, Peale wrote to Bomford that he had received the work. Peale claimed, "I cannot do justice to the merit of the picture...and...although I have never loved the Copying of Pictures, yet I would wish to make a Copy of it..."
Here Peale felt he had found the perfect religious history painting for Jefferson's America. A simple man, kneeling Noah dominates the natural world around him while empowering and approving divine light shines down on him from above.
1819 Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Noah and His Ark (After Charles Catton). Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Philadelphia. (Reproduction by 1st-art-gallery.com. Contact the academy for an accurate image.)
Charles Willson Peale was one of the earliest students of Benjamin West (1738-1820), the Pennsylvania born artist, who became the 2nd President of England’s Royal Academy. West’s professional tutelage and the artistic & financial success he found in England made him a model for generations of colonial and American artists.
Benjamin West believed that history painting was the road to artistic distinction as well as enlightenment of the public. His friend, Joshua Reynolds encouraged students to use "scripture histories" as subjects "in which men are universally concerned, and which powerfully strike upon the publick sympathy." In 18th century England, fascination with religious & historical narrative as inspirational art peaked in West's paintings, which were exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy.
Benjamin West's cross-Atlantic gift of a replica of his 1811 painting of Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple to the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, produced both inspiration & income for the hospital, as patrons flocked in to pay to view the 10' by 15' painting in a building erected just to house the monumental work.
Noah and His Ark (After Charles Catton) placed Charles Willson Peale firmly in that tradition and signaled that America finally was convinced that painting could inspire social improvement. There was room for more than portrait painting in 19th century America.
See this blog for discussions of Charles Willson Peale and some of his paintings of women on 4/19/2009; 4/20/2009; 4/2/2009; 3/30/2009.
See this blog for discussion of Benjamin West, some of his American paintings of women, and his influence on American painters on 4/9/2009.
Paintings of American women by John Durand.
1768 Attributed to John Durand (fl 1765-1782). Sarah Whitehead Hubbard. (Reproduction at encore-editions.com.)
1768-70 John Durand (fl 1765-1782). Susannah or Mary Bontecou. Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Reproduction at encore-editions.com. These paintings are much more exciting seen in person or through a fine photograph. Contact the Met for an accurate image.)
1768-70 John Durand (fl 1765-1782). Hannah Farmer (Mrs. Benjamin Peck). Henry Francis duPont Winterthur Museum. (This depiction is from a lecture slide. Do not copy or reproduce. Contact Winterthur for an accurate image.)
1769 John Durand (fl 1765-1782). Elizabeth Boush. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. (This depiction is from a lecture slide. Do not copy or reproduce. Contact Colonial Williamsburg for an accurate image.)
1770 John Durand (fl 1765-1782). Mrs John Lothrop. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. (This depiction is from a lecture slide. Do not copy or reproduce. Contact the national gallery for an accurate image.)
1780 John Durand (fl 1765-1782). Mrs. James Greenway. College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. (This depiction is from a lecture slide. Do not copy or reproduce. Contact William and Mary for an accurate image.)