Bernard Isaac Durward (1817 - 1902)

Birth date: 3/26/1817 Death date: 3/21/1902  
Birth location: Montrose, Scotland Death location: Baraboo, Wisconsin  
Media: Painter / Watercolor , Painting / Oil Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

1842: married Margaret Hillyard
Father of Charles Durward.
1845: immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
1851; purchased four acres on the Milwaukee River and built an octagonal house.
1866: built St. Mary's of the Pines church near Baraboo,Wisconsin.
Portrait-figure painter in Milwaukee, obtained success for portraits of Solomon Juneau and Byron Kilbourn. 


Bernard Isaac Durward
1817 Montrose, Scotland
1902 Wisconsin

Primarily known as a portrait painter in Milwaukee, Bernard Isaac Durward was born in Montrose, Scotland in 1817.  As a young man he initially apprenticed to become a shoemaker.  His introduction to art was through the imitation of works done by other artists.  Durward sought to copy these in watercolor and crayon.   He later added the use of oils to his repertoire.  Through some early successes he was able to briefly settle in England.  Later in 1845, he immigrated with his family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where an uncle was living at the time.

Durward and his family initially attempted to establish a homestead in Dodge county near Neosho.  Their effort was short-lived.  One of his children took sick and his wife urged that they retreat back to the city of Milwaukee.  At first the plan was for him to earn enough money for a return trip to England, but his luck changed.  After he completed a successful portrait of Solomon Juneau, one of Milwaukee’s first European founders, he decided to stay. 

In 1852, Durward painted the portrait of Bishop Henni of Milwaukee.  The relationship that he developed with the bishop was a pivotal moment for Durward.  At this point in his life, Bernard Isaac Durward wholeheartedly embraced the Catholic Church.  He taught as a professor of rhetoric at the St. Francis Seminary in order to serve his faith and provide supplemental income.  In 1862, the Durward family moved for a final time to a spot in the Baraboo Hills that they called Durward’s Glen.  He sought the solitude of nature in order to live a contemplative life dedicated to his religious art.  Increasingly as he aged, he also focused more of his time on writing and poetry.  Seen as an eccentric by his neighbors, and never a successful farmer, he continued supporting his family through painting commissions and his teaching at the seminary.

Though he was most prominently known as a portrait artist, he also did a number of altar pieces for churches in the Milwaukee area.  In addition, he painted numerous religious subjects and still life paintings.  Not only an artist and a poet, he was also a collector.  Durward acquired a number of works for his gallery at Durward’s Glen from other Wisconsin artists of the time.  The bulk of this collection now resides at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

Wisconsin Affiliations

Wisconsin Art Organizations

No art organizations were found.

  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Flickr icon
  • Youtube icon
  • E-News icon