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 Benjamin Chambers Brown  (1865 - 1942)

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Lived/Active: California/Arkansas      Known for: landscape, portrait and still-life painting, etching

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Ad Code: 2
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Eucalypti near Arch Beach, California
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Marion, Arkansas, Benjamin Brown was a landscape painter and printmaker, known for his Impressionist landscapes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and fields of poppies.  His primary mediums were oil, lithography and etching, although he also did watercolor painting throughout his career.

Brown was educated at the University of Tennessee and at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts with Paul Harney and John Fry.  His early interest was photography.  In 1890, accompanied by friend William Griffith, he went to Paris for a year of study with Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant at the Academy Julian.

Returning to the United States, he lived in St. Louis, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Texas. His early specialities were portraiture and still lifes, but moving to Pasadena in 1896, he turned to local landscape and also painted the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert in Arizona.

In 1914, he began doing etchings, and with his brother, Howell, co-founded the Printmakers of Los Angeles, later known as the California Society of Printmakers.

Exhibition venues included the Seattle Exposition in 1909 and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. He was a member of the California Art Club and the Pasadena Society of Artists.

He died in Pasadena in 1942.

Sources:
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peggy and Harold Samuels, Artists of the American West
William Gerdts and Will South, California Impressionism

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel:
Benjamin Brown was born in Marion, Arkansas, in 1865, and studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts.  Further study was in Paris at the Academie Julian.

Upon completing his studies, Brown was active in the American South, specializing in portraits and still lifes.  Moving to Pasadena in 1896, Brown quickly saw the potential and changed his artistic focus to landscape painting.

Brown is best remembered for his Impressionist renderings of the Sierra Mountains and poppy-filled spring meadows.

Benjamin Brown died in Pasadena in 1942.

Biography from Fleischer Museum:
Though the still lifes popular of the era often featured bowls or Indian baskets of California poppies, the icon of poppy covered slopes was probably only developed in the late 1890s.  Brown wrote that on one of William Wendt's trips to southern California around 1900, he showed up at Brown's door "with a collection of poppy and other landscapes" looking for a studio in which to work.  A seminal poppy picture painted by Wendt on a Malibu ranch in 1898 is known to be in a private collection.

We also know that Brown, who specialized in portrait and figure painting, did not sell any work until about 1900, when he sold a landscape of the poppy field that stretched between Altadena and Eaton Canyon.  By 1905, Brown was known for his poppy field paintings, which "have hardly remained long enough in his studio to become throughly dry."  Brown, who lived in such close proximity to the fields, seems a natural for coming up with the poppy theme.

Other artists recognized the salability of poppy pictures.  Along with Brown, John Gamble and Granville Redmond became the best-known of many southern California artists who ultimately essayed the theme. 

There is no East Coast movement comparable to the California wildflower painters, although certain Texas artists became known for painting fields of bluebonnets.  Even San Francisco artists were not as fond of the subject as their southern counterparts.

Credit: A Time and Place, From the Ries Collection of California Painting, The Oakland Museum.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Benjamin Brown is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Grand Canyon
The California Art Club
Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
California Painters



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