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Master Molteno
, c. 1866

by Townsend Duryea

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

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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
Accession number: 2009.68