In early 2017, our fourth floor will be transformed into a new destination for historical education and innovation. During the current renovation, objects from our permanent collection are on view throughout the Museum.
The Course of Empire: The Savage State
Oil on canvas (relined)
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Garret Rapalje, the son of George Janse Rapalje and Diana (Middagh) Rapalje, married Helena De Nyse (b. 1732) and lived and worked as an importer in New York. He was an assistant alderman in the city during the 1760s. He and Helena had four children, Garret II, George, Anne, and Jaques. John Durand painted a portrait of the Rapalje children in 1768, also in the Society's collection (1946.201), and is regarded as his best and most ambitious work. John Durand (1731-1805) first began working in Virginia in 1765, but by 1766 had moved to New York City to paint portraits of the Beekman children for their father James Beekman. Durand’s background and training are unknown, but his use of rococo colors, interest in historical paintings and reference to his name in French lead art historians to believe he was born or trained in France. He left New York in 1768 as one of the city’s most celebrated painters and returned to Virginia, where he lived for most of the remainder of his life. The style of his late work executed in Virginia changed notably, never garnering him the critical acclaim and popular response his early New York portraits had received.
Gift of Mrs. Eliza J. Watson in memory of her husband, John Jay Watson
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
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