Benjamin N. Duke, 1894, Oil on canvas, 36" x 50", by Norval H. Busey
Benjamin Newton Duke (1855-1929), son of Washington Duke, was a director of the American Tobacco Company, which was headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and made many gifts to Trinity College, which was later renamed Duke University. His donations enabled the institution to move from Randolph County to Durham and to remain financially solvent both before and after 1924, when his brother, James Duke, granted a substantial endowment to the University, thus assuring its financial future. Benjamin married Sarah P. Duke; they had one son, Angier, and one daughter, Mary [later Mary Duke Biddle]. More information on Benjamin Duke can be found in the article "Remembering Ben Duke", by University Archivist, William E. King. In 1960, this portrait was transferred with three other Duke family portraits from Four Acres, Benjamin N. Duke's home in Durham. This portrait hangs behind the Public Services Desk in Lilly Library's Main Lobby.
Norval H. Busey was born in 1845, in Christiansburg, Virginia. He studied painting with Bouguereau in Paris. Around 1871 he became a member of the Salmagundi Club in New York, an early important art club that held regular exhibitions and formed a collection. The club's influence waned by the 1940s. Busey also painted portraits of Mrs. Benjamin N. Duke, Master Angier B. Duke, and Miss Mary Duke, which hang in Lilly Library's Main Lobby, and The Reapers, which hangs in the south foyer on the second floor.
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