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Duryea, Townsend, 1823-1888 (photographer)



Townsend Duryea (senior) was born in Glencoe, Long Island, New York (Pike 1972, p.120). He trained as a mining engineer, but was also familiar with photography and had taken an art course. He arrived in Melbourne, Australia, in 1852, working for a company interested in copper mining. However, the following year he went into the photographic business with Alexander McDonald, operating as Duryea and McDonald (Cato 1955, p.21). They had a variety of studios in Melbourne, Geelong and Hobart (Davies and Stanbury 1985, p.156). In 1855, he moved to Adelaide and opened daguerreotype rooms. Later that year, with his brother Sanford, Duryea was operating at 66 and 68 King William Street, Adelaide (Davies and Stanbury 1985, p.156; Pike 1972, p.120). Duryea Brothers lasted until 1863. From 1858 until 1860 Duryea was also in business with William Nixon (Davies and Stanbury, p.156 and 208). In 1867, when the Duke of Edinburgh visited Adelaide, Duryea was appointed official royal photographer. In 1875 a fire destroyed Duryea's studio and his collection of glass plate negatives. He retired from photography and moved to the Riverina district of New South Wales. He died on December 13th 1888 (Pike 1972, p.120).

Duryea married three times. His first wife was Madalina. His second marriage took place circa 1852 and was to Elizabeth Mary Smith. His final marriage, which took place in 1872, was to Catherine Elizabeth Friggins. Several of Duryea's children and grandchildren became photographers (Pike 1972, p.120). Duryea also taught photography to Nicholas John Caire.


See between p.176 and p.177 of Cato's 'The story of the camera...' (1955).


Duryea, Townsend (1866), 'Duryea's Adelaide album'.


Cato, Jack (1955), 'The story of the camera in Australia'. Melbourne: Institute of Australian Photographers.

Davies, Alan and Stanbury, Peter (1985), 'The mechanical eye in Australia: photography 1841-1900'. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

History Trust of South Australia (1997), 'Duryea's panorama, Adelaide 1865' [Internet]. Adelaide: Fusion Design Consultants Pty Ltd. Available from: [Accessed 14 January 2004].

Pike, Douglas ed. (1972), 'Australian dictionary of biography'. Volume 4: 1851-1890 D-J. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.