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 John H. Drury  (1816 - 1914)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/District Of Columbia      Known for: painter-landscape, genre, cattle

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from Auction House Records.
Sunset on the Ruins
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John H. Drury, a noted early Chicago artist who was for many years in the forefront of Illinois art, was born in Washington, D.C., on June 30, 1816.  He was the first of seven children born to Samuel and Mary (Nolan) Drury.  His father was, for many years, a justice of the peace in high standing.  After being educated in the district schools of his native city, John Drury went into the dry goods business, and then for several years was in the Post Office Department at Washington.

At an early age, he displayed a strong artistic talent and was never without his pencil or brush. His first regular lessons were taken from Thomas Doughty, at that time one of the best-known landscape artists in the country.  In July of 1857, Drury was issued his passport and left America for study in Europe.  He finally settled in Paris where he received instruction under Thomas Couture for three years.  Returning to his native land in 1860, the artist spent time in New York and Washington where he was a member of the Washington Art Association.  Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War the artist moved his home - he had married Mary C. Donelan of Boston in 1845 - to Chicago where he opened his studio in the Crosby Opera House.  

In January of 1871, with the completion of the new Academy of Design building, Drury was appointed Professor of Drawing and Painting and given studio #10 on the fourth floor facing Adams Street.  While many of his paintings were lost in the Great Chicago Fire in October of that same year, the artist continued to work at his profession, doing excellent work in cattle and pastoral scenes and figure painting.  

Drury exhibited numerous times in the Art Hall of the Inter-State Industrial Building in Chicago, showing nine paintings between 1875 and 1885.  Designed primarily for the exhibition of industrial and agricultural goods, the Exposition had exhibitions of painting, drawing and sculpture throughout the years of its existence, 1873 – 1891.

The artist returned to Washington, D.C. often and settled in the city again permanently in 1905.  He died there on March 19, 1914.


Submitted October 2005 by Edward S. Bentley, Researcher from Lansing, Michigan.

Sources include:
History of Chicago, 1885, by A.T. Andreas
“The Chicago Academy of Design,” The Art Review, January, 1871, pp. 14-15
The Artists of Washington, D.C., Virgil E. McMahan, 1995
Miss Kathleen Bowen, genealogy of the Drury family
Correspondence between Mr. Consentino of the National Museum of American Art and Mr. J. Zywicki, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Chicago Historical Society
The artist's death certificate.

The Chicago Historical Society has a beautiful work by Drury titled: Rocky Mountain Scenery.


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