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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Master Molteno

c. 1866
Townsend Duryea

carte de visite photograph (support: 10.0 cm x 6.4 cm, image: 8.8 cm x 5.9 cm)

Townsend Duryea was born in Long Island, New York in 1823. He trained as a mining engineer, but took up photography during the late 1840s, such that when he and Archibald McDonald opened their ‘MAMMOTH SKYLIGHT ROOMS’ in Bourke Street Melbourne in 1853 they confidently advertised their ‘experience of twelve years’ and their ability to ‘secure the approbation of the most fastidious’. They later ran a studio in Hobart but by the end of 1855 Duryea was working with his brother Sanford in Adelaide and ‘daily making a very superior class of Portraits … Daguerreotype, Halotype, Stereoscopic or Solid Pictures, Crayon Pictures and all the new processes’. In 1857, having worked in regional South Australia, he went into business with William Millington Nixon but was trading with Sanford again as ‘Duryea Brothers’ as of late 1859. In March 1864, by which stage he was working independently at 66 King William Street, Duryea announced ‘the great improvement he has made in Card Portraits’, which he claimed were ‘far superior to any heretofore offered the public of this colony’. His studio and collection of 50,000 negatives were destroyed by fire in 1875; thereafter Duryea took up land in Balranald. He died in a buggy accident there in December 1888. Four of his twelve children (from three marriages) became photographers, including Townsend Junior, who carried on the Duryea name in Adelaide.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Graham Smith 2009

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Townsend Duryea (age 43 in 1866)

Frederick John Molteno (age 6 in 1866)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Supported by

Graham Smith (18 portraits supported)

Related portraits

1. Sarah and Ann Jacob, c. 1866. All Townsend Duryea.

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly

Carte-o-mania!

Previous exhibition, 2018

Drawn from the NPG’s burgeoning collection of cartes de visite, Carte-o-mania! celebrates the wit, style and substance of the pocket-sized portraits that were taken and collected like crazy in post-goldrush Australia.

Ned Kelly death mask
Ned Kelly death mask
Ned Kelly death mask
Ned Kelly death mask

Sideshow Alley

Infamy, the macabre & the portrait

Previous exhibition, 2015

Death masks, post-mortem drawings and other spooky and disquieting portraits... Come and see how portraits of infamous Australians were used in the 19th century.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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