The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran (Durand), 1837-1917

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1837.07.04
Place of Birth: Lille
Date of Death: 1917.02.18
Place of Death: Paris


Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran was a painter.


Carolus-Duran received his artistic education at the Académie in Lille under the sculptor Augustin-Phidias Cadet de Beaupré and in the atelier of François Souchon, one of David's pupils. In 1853 he moved to Paris where he copied in the Louvre and met Henri Fantin-Latour. He made his debut at the Salon in 1859. His early works show the influence of Gustave Courbet whom he came to known through Fantin-Latour or Zacharie Astruc. He was also introduced by Fantin-Latour in 1858 to Whistler at the Café Molière and Whistler showed him the 'French Set' which he had recently printed at Delâtre's.

In 1860 Carolus-Duran won the Wicar prize and travelled to Rome in 1862, where he stayed until 1866. In May 1863 Fantin-Latour wrote to Whistler, mentioning a picture by Carolus-Duran from this Italian period which was being exhibited in the Salon, Prière du Soir, Italie (Salon catalogue no. 631). He described it in an off-hand manner as 'some Monks very insignificant' (#01079).

Carolus-Duran travelled to Spain in 1866, staying until 1868. His works from this date show his growing appreciation of Spanish painting with their subdued colour schemes and impasto, anticipating Whistler's later interest.

During the Commune (1870) Carolus-Duran stayed in Brussels, and then opened a studio in Paris in 1872, where he was regularly visited by John Singer Sargent. He himself became a fashionable portrait painter, e.g. Mlle Croizette on Horseback (1873; Musée Municipale des Beaux-Arts, Tourcoing), and in 1874-75 held his own one man show at the Cercle des Mirlitons.

His subsequent works showed a new sumptousness in colour and setting, influenced by a trip to Russia in 1876, and also an interest in the plein-air techniques of the Impressionists. In 1878 he won a commission to paint a ceiling in the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris, The Glorification of Marie de' Medici (Louvre, Paris).

In 1890 he became a founder-member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, of which he was to be elected President in 1900. Whistler was still in contact with Carolus-Duran in the 1890s, mentioning in 1892 to Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac having visited Carolus-Duran (#03002).

In 1904 Carolus-Duran was elected a member of the Institut and appointed Director of the Académie de France in Rome.


Alexandre, A., 'Carolus-Duran', Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, vol. 13, 1903, pp. 185-200; vol. 14, 1903, pp. 289-304; Carolus-Duran, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Flavian, Paris, 1973; Bajou, Valérie M. C., 'Carolus-Duran', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 8 August 2002).