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James Britton

 (1878 - 1936)
James Britton was active/lived in Connecticut.  James Britton is known for portrait, landscape, figure, prints.

James Britton

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following biography is from Barbara Britton and Ursula Britton, granddaughters of the artist:

Active in New York and New England from the 1900s to the 1930s, Connecticut-born James Britton was well known as both an artist and a writer. He first studied art in Hartford under Charles Noel Flagg, and later, Walter Griffin. In New York, he had a drawing apprenticeship with August Jacacci at "Scribner's Magazine,"and studied painting with George DeForest Brush at the Art Students' League.

He was one of the founders, in 1910, of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. In New York, Britton's close involvement with other artists led him to form a number of artist groups, chief among them The Eclectics, which showed annually at Babcock and other Manhattan galleries in the years 1915-23, and which counted among its members at various times, Maurice Prendergast, Jane Peterson, Philip L. Hale, George Luks, Theresa Bernstein, Mahonri Young.

Though Britton's primary focus was as a portrait painter, he also produced hundreds of oil landscapes, and experimented successfully with woodcuts. Throughout his life, he regularly exhibited in both solo and group shows in New York City, Connecticut, Boston, and Gloucester, Massachusetts. His work was acclaimed by such influential art critics as Royal Cortissoz, Philip L. Hale, and Frank Weitenkampf.

As an art journalist, Britton wrote criticism for American Art News (forerunner of today's "ARTnews"), the Hartford Courant, Hartford Times, and other publications, as well as producing his own periodicals, Art Review International and Opus. He campaigned tirelessly for better recognition of American artists, whose talents he felt were second to none. In addition to his published writings, Britton maintained diaries over some 30 years, in which he recorded in vivid detail the art world of his time. Ever the keen observer, Britton also used the diaries as sketchbooks, filling them with whimsical pen and ink drawings of his surroundings.

In 1922, Britton settled with his wife and children in Sag Harbor, Long Island. He continued to maintain his artistic and journalistic life in New York City, commuting frequently by train. His top floor studio in Sag Harbor offered a panoramic view of the town and the ever-changing sea and sky, which he painted constantly, along with many portraits of his wife and children. In October 1925, the family resettled in Connecticut, where Britton's last years were marked by poor health following an auto accident in 1928.

During his lifetime, James Britton exhibited widely in New York and New England. Since his death he has been represented in both solo and group exhibitions in New York, Connecticut, and California. His works are held in a number of public and private collections, including the Wadsworth Atheneum, Saint Joseph College, the Mark Twain Memorial, the Manchester Public Library (all in Connecticut), and the New York Public Library. Britton's diaries and papers are now at the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, and he is also represented in the Connecticut Artists Project at the University of Connecticut.


February 20, 1878 Born, Hartford, Connecticut

1895 Moved to New York City for apprenticeship as illustrator at Scribner's Magazine, under August Jacacci; studied painting with George de Forest Brush at Art Students' League, New York City

1896 Returned to Hartford, studied first with Charles Noel Flagg at Connecticut League of Art Students, later with Walter Griffin and Robert Brandegee

c. 1907 Active in summer art colony at Gloucester, Massachusetts, to which he returned many summers thereafter

1910 Co-founded Connecticut Academy of Fine Art, Hartford

March 1913 Reviewed the Armory Show (International Exhibition of 1913) for American Art News, New York City

1913-1919 Wrote art criticism for American Art News

1914 Married Caroline Korner of Waterbury, CT

1915 Moved to New York's Greenwich Village; birth of son,
James Jerome

1915 Organized The Eclectics, an exhibiting group of painters and sculptors; over the years the group included besides Britton, Theresa Bernstein, Guy Pene du Bois, Walter Griffin, Philip L. Hale, Eugene Higgins, George Luks, Jane Peterson, Maurice Prendergast, Mahonri Young, and others

1915-16 First Eclectics exhibition, Folsom Galleries, New York City

1916 Exhibition of oils and charcoal sketches at the New York City studios of sculptor Marie Apel; birth of daughter, Teresa Lenore

1917 Second Eclectics exhibition, Arlington Galleries, New York City; the exhibition subsequently traveled to Vose Galleries in Boston

1918 Exhibited in "American Paintings and Sculpture Pertaining to the War," M. Knoedler & Company Galleries, New York City (with George Bellows, William Glackens, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, John Sloan, others)

February 1918 Third Eclectics exhibition, Folsom Galleries, New York City
c. 1918 Exhibited in New York with members of the Painter-Gravers Club, which included T. Bernstein, W. Glackens, C. Hassam, Rockwell Kent, J. Sloan, J. Alden Weir, others

December 1918 Fourth Eclectics exhibition, Babcock Galleries, New York City

1919 First Expressionists exhibition, Babcock Galleries, New York City (with W. Griffin, P. Hale, M. Prendergast, others)

1919 Fifth Eclectics exhibition, Babcock Galleries, New York City; birth of daughter, Ruth Lily

1919-25 Published Artists of America: A History, Part 1, and art periodicals, Art Review International; Opus

1921 Sixth Eclectics exhibition, Babcock Galleries, New York City; woodcuts included in New York Public Library exhibition of prints, curated by Frank Weitenkampf

1922 Moved to Sag Harbor, Long Island; seventh Eclectics exhibition, Dudensing Galleries, New York City

1923 Eighth Eclectics exhibition, Babcock Galleries, New York City

1924 Solo exhibition, Ainslie Galleries, New York City

1924 Group exhibition, Henry Ward Beecher Memorial Gallery of Plymouth Institute, Brooklyn, NY

1925 First exhibition of the New Society of American Artists, M. Knoedler & Co. Galleries, New York City (with William Donohue, E. Higgins, Ernest Lawson, Robert Vonnoh, others); moved to Waterbury, CT

1926 Second exhibition of the New Society of American Artists, M. Knoedler & Co. Galleries, New York City (with W. Donohue, E. Higgins, Hayley Lever, Jerome Myers, Morris Hall Pancoast, R. Vonnoh, others)

1928 Struck by automobile while crossing street in Hartford, CT; left permanently disabled

1929 Joint exhibition, James Britton and Maud Nottingham Monnier, Gloucester, Massachusetts

1930 Britton's portrait of William Gedney Bunce purchased by Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; solo exhibition, Hartford Women's Club; moved to Manchester, CT

April 16, 1936 Died, Hartford, Connecticut


1936 James Britton Memorial Exhibition, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

1937 Represented in Connecticut Academy of Fine Art Annual Exhibition, Morgan Memorial at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

1951 Represented in "45 Portraits," Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (with Bellows, Cassatt, Flagg, Henri, Modigliani, Prendergast, Rembrandt, others)

1982 Represented in "American Paintings of the 1920s and 1930s," Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT (with Avery, Benton, O'Keeffe, others)

1990 Represented in "Highlights from the Reverend Andrew J. Kelly Collection," Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT (with Avery, Hassam, O'Keeffe, Weber, others)

1990-91 Britton's portrait of Theresa Bernstein included in "Echoes of New York: The Paintings of Theresa Bernstein," Museum of the City of New York, Manhattan

1994 Represented in "Portraits in Art: Paintings and Prints from the Saint Joseph College Art Collections," Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT (with Bellows, Hassam, Hockney, Rembrandt, others)

1997 "James Britton: American Paintings 1907-1934," Gallery 2, Ventura College, Ventura, CA

1998 "James Britton: Paintings and Woodcuts," Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT

1999 "James Britton: Painter/Printmaker," Leeds-Wallace Gallery, Ventura, CA

1999 "Sag Harbor Skies: 1925...1975" James Britton and N.H. Stubbing, Nabi Gallery, Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York

2000 "James Britton: Landscapes, Portraits and Prints," Nabi Gallery, Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York

2000 Represented in "A Director's Choice," Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT

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© Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Self-Portrait, woodcut print, 7x6, 1926

About  James Britton

Born:  1878 - Hartford, Connecticut
Died:   1936 - Hartford, Connecticut
Known for:  portrait, landscape, figure, prints