DURAND-BRAGER, Jean Baptiste Henri
(b. 1814, Dol-de-Bretagne, d. 1879, Paris)
French painter and photographer. He was an adventurous soul, which was inherited, from his father, the explorer Jean-Baptiste Leonard Durand. He explored the world's reaches and if not for some fateful moments he would have settled into a naval career rather than that of an artist. His repertoire contains scenes from his youthful travels to the coast of Africa, Asia and South America, including being shipwrecked in Senegal. To avoid these traumas and hardships, his father encouraged him to study art, as he had been convinced of his son's great natural talent. He became a painter of naval subjects and he studied under Théodore Gudin after which he entered the atelier of the French painter Eugène Isabey.
In 1840, he accompanied the fleet, which brought Napoleon's remains from St Helena. He went to Buenos Aires and explored Uruguay and Brazil as the official court painter. His being awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1844 followed this. He spent time on the French frigate Nieman recording naval combats between the English frigates Arethusa and Amethyst and the French navy. He continued under the direction of the French naval department painting many grand French battles in the Mediterranean Sea, notably the bombardment of Mogador, Algeria. Further important paintings were commissioned at the grand siege of Sebastopol and the expedition of Kluburn.
He received a military appointment to the Crimea as a naval officer. Once in Russia, he became a reporter and sent reports, sketches and photographs to illustrated French journals. From 1855 to 1856, Durand-Brager and Lassimonne (active 1850-1859) photographed the Crimean War in Russia. Lassimonne, the photographer, hired Durand-Brager either as an assistant or as a partner, to take care of business matters.