Biography: Born in Pikesville, Maryland, Douglas Duer had his early education at the Marston's School in Baltimore. Encouraged to pursue his artistic talent by his sister Henrietta, a portraitist, he studied for one year with William Merritt Chase at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1908 to 1909, and with Howard Pyle from 1909 to 1911. He kept a studio in Wilmington from 1909 until 1917. During these years, he established his record as an illustrator with, among other commissions, images for Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage and poems by William Rose Benet. Throughout his career, he would favor the vignette style as part of his commitment to a pleasing relationship between text and image.
He served as a camouflage artist in World War I in France with the Fortieth Engineers. After the war, he remained with the Army to copy German camouflage before its destruction. From the early 1920s, he worked from his New York City studio at 51 W. 10th Street as a magazine illustrator. For a time his studio was in Brooklyn; he moved to Philadelphia in 1929, commuting to Wilmington to teach at the Wilmington Academy of Art. He moved Huntington Valley (PA) in 1940.
Duer illustrated book and magazine fiction; he also designed nationally-published advertisements. He worked on public mural projects during the Depression (including at the JS Jenks School in Chestunut Hill, Philadelphia), when much of the publishing industry was failing, and then returned to illustration and advertising art as the economy improved. He excelled at Western and railroad scenes. In the 1940s, Duer was art director for Beacon Chemical Company (Philadelphia), and also designed greeting cards.
Duer was a distinguished member of the Society of Illustrators in New York City. In 1916, he exhibited his work at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC.
After a heart attack in 1952, he left commercial work and painted primarily landscapes and figures until his death in 1964.
Sources: A Small School of Art, Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth H. Hawkes (editors), Delaware Art Museum, 1980; and DAM archives.