Woman of the Century/Harriet Thayer Durgin
DURGIN, Miss Harriet Thayer, artist, born in the town of Wilmington, Mass., in 1848. She is the daughter of Rev. J. M. Durgin. Sprung from families who, leaving their homes for conscience's sake, sought New England's shores, and whose lives were freely given when they were needed in their country's defense, her father was a man of dauntless courage and remarkable intellectual power. He was of the Baptist faith and a man of broad and liberal sentiments. An enthusiast in the anti-slavery movement, he entered the army in the late war and left behind him a brilliant military record. The mother, a woman of exalted character, fine intellect and lovely disposition, united two good New England names, as she was of the Braintree-Thayer family. One of a family of five children, Miss Durgin's youth was surrounded by those gentle and refining influences which are the lot of those born into the environment of a clergyman's household. She pursued her preparatory studies of life, not only in the training schools of those towns where her father's profession called him, but in a home where every influence was HARRIET THAYER DURGIN. directed toward the upbuilding of a rich and well rounded character. She passed the concluding years of study in the New Hampton Institute, in New Hampshire. When it became necessary for Miss Durgin to assume the duties and responsibilities of life on her own account, she chose teaching as a stepping-stone to the realization of her dream, an art education. Finally the way opened to enter upon her favorite field of study, and in 1880 she joined her sister Lyle in Paris. France, where she entered the studio of Mme. de Cool, and later that of Francois Rivoire, where daily lessons were taken. Having in company with her sister established a little home, she found many famous artists who were glad to visit the cosy salon and give careful and valuable criticism. After seven years of study Miss Durgin returned to Boston, where she had many friends, and in company with her sifter opened a studio in the most fashionable quarter of the city. Their rooms were soon frequented on reception days by admirers and lovers of art, and commissions have never been wanting to keep their brushes constantly employed. As a flower painter she stands among the foremost of American artists. A panel of tea-roses received special notice in the salon of 1886, and a group combining flowers and landscape in 1890 won much notice.