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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.

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

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.

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.

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 both past and present.

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

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency