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 Albertus Del Orient Browere  (1814 - 1887)



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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: landscape and street-gold rush genre painting

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Ad Code: 3
Albertus Del Orient Browere
from Auction House Records.
The Attack on Watkins Glen
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Browere, born in Tarrytown, New York in 1814, was the son of a sculptor, John Henri Isaac Browere (1790-1834), famous for a series of life masks of U.S. presidents and other noteworthy personages, but the son was largely self taught.  Established in New York City, Browere executed eight scenes from the writings of Washington Irving.  One example is the rather ambitious battle scene, Peter Stuyvesant at the Recapture of Fort Casimir (1838; M. Knoedler and Co., New York), full of animated figure groups and descriptive detail.  Then he moved to Catskill where he focused on landscapes.  Meanwhile, Browere was exhibiting works at the American Art-Union, the National Academy, and at the Apollo Association.  He also exhibited The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow in 1839.  The New York Historical Association in Cooperstown has one of Browere's lively genre works, Mrs. McCormick's General Store (1844), regarded by some as his masterpiece.  The trouble-making boys are being scolded by the proprietress, while the lad on the left is shoplifting.  Two trips to California are documented (1852 and 1858).  Browere painted genre scenes of gold miners and landscapes of the Sierra Nevada.  In addition he executed tropical landscapes in Central America.

The Lone Prospector, dated 1853 (David and Bernadette Packard) is probably Browere's best known image of California.  The naturalistic details are disappointingly formulaic and artificial and the whole seems theatrical, however, the artist conveys a sense of danger in the daily routine of a hermit-miner.  Browere's Mokelumne Hill, dated 1857 (University of California, Berkeley), is a magnificent panorama and one of the artist's greatest achievements.  Pine trees frame the gently receding rolling hills, which the eye follows back to the distant blue-gray mountain range.  Here nature's details have been lovingly and carefully rendered with a sophistication that is lacking in the genre paintings and in The Lone Prospector. Gold Mining in California (Private collection) typifies Browere's transplanted genre style in 1858 with its miners playing a spirited round of cards.  In the same year he painted a topographical landscape, View of the City of Stockton, also privately owned, which was worked up from plein-air sketches executed on the bank of the San Joaquin River. We assume that Treasure Hunters, in a private collection (which some attribute to Charles Christian Nahl),was painted after the second trip to California. The stern-faced figures, finishing up digging a grave, are bathed in a strong reddish sunset light from the right.  The man standing on the right holds his hat behind his back and reverently nods his head while the deceased lies under a thick blanket.  For this solemn work, Browere abandoned the caricatured faces, the wild gesticulating poses, and the excessive anecdotal detail and he conveyed the majesty of California's redwoods, mountains, and dramatic sweeping valleys.  Browere returned to Catskill where he died in 1887.

Williams, Hermann Warner, Jr. Mirror to the American Past: A Survey of American Genre Painting: 1750-1900. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1973, pp. 98-101; Hills, Patricia. The Painter's America: Rural and Urban Life, 1810-1910. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974, fig. 19; Hoopes, Donelson F. American Narrative Painting. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1974, cat. nos. 36-37; O California! Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century California Landscapes and Observations. San Francisco: Bedford Arts, 1990, cat. nos. 31, 34, 36.        

Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Tarrytown, New York, Albertus Browere, mostly self taught, became a  Hudson River landscapist whose recognition came mostly after his death.  He was also a painter of genre, still life and scenes from the literature of Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. 

When news of the California Gold Rush came to him, he sailed in 1852 to California, traveling around Cape Horn, and stayed for four years.  In 1858, he made another and final trip West, going over the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco.  He stayed several years, and California landscapes exist from this period as well as ones depicting mining activities of the Gold Rush.  As interested in mining as painting, he "often painted himself into his mining scenes as a red-shirted miner." (Hughes 153)

His father was well-known sculptor, Henri Isaac Browere, and Albertus inherited some of his sculpting talent but early turned to painting.  By age 17, he was painting historical subjects and exhibiting at the National Academy in New York City where he was a student.  In 1832, he won the award for the best original oil painting by the American Institute.  From 1833 to 1848, he exhibited at the American Academy, the Apollo Association, and the American Art Union.  After his father died in 1834, Browere moved to Catskill, New York, where he remained for his life excepting the two periods of travel that took him to California.  In Catskill, he earned money as an apothecary and as a carriage and sign painter for local merchants.  He painted in the countryside during his free time.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Edan Hughes, 300 Years in California

Biography from Covington Fine Arts Gallery, Inc.:
Landscape, still life and genre painter, Albertus Del Orient Browere was born in Tarrytown, New York.  He was the son of Henry Issac Browere, a sculptor of life masks.  Browere received his art training from his father and first exhibited at the National Academy in 1831.

In 1832 he was awarded a Silver Medal for having the "Best Oil Painting" at the American Institute of the City of New York, and in 1841 was awarded another Silver Medal from the National Academy.

Other than two fruitless trips to California in search of Gold, Browere spent his life in Catskill, NY painting that region.  He exhibited at numerous other organizations in addition to the National Academy of Design.

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Albertus Browere is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Hudson River School Painters

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