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 Franklin (Peleg Franklin) Brownell  (1857 - 1946)



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Lived/Active: Ontario/Massachusetts / Canada      Known for: landscape, marine, genre, still life and portrait painting, teaching

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Peleg Franklin Brownell is primarily known as Franklin (Peleg Franklin) Brownell

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Ad Code: 3
Franklin Peleg Brownell
from Auction House Records.
Reading, an interior scene with two girls reading by a window
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Peleg Franklin Brownell (AKA: Franklin Brownell) was a painter and educator.  He was born in Bedford, Massachusetts and died in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where he had lived and worked since 1886 (1).

His mediums included oil, watercolor, pen and ink and pastel.  His subjects were landscapes, marinescapes, beach scenes, interiors, genre, family life, urban scenes, still life and portraits. The painting locations were Ottawa and its environs (Gatineau), Quebec, Algonquin Park (Ontario), Europe, Massachusetts and the West Indies.  His styles were Impressionism* and Realism*.  See AskART Images for good illustrations of the range of his work.

He studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts under Thomas Wilmer Dewing (c.1877- 1879); and in Paris (1880 - 1883), at the Academie Julian* under Tony Robert-Fleury and William Bouguereau, and at the Atelier of Leon Joseph Florentin Bonnat (see all teachers in AskART).

In 1886 Brownell came to Ottawa to be principal of the Ottawa School of Art (starting in 1887), and worked there until its closure in 1899.   In 1898 (2), he became head of the school at the Women’s Art Association of Canada (Ottawa), which later became the Art Association of Ottawa and worked there until 1921.  When the Ottawa Art School reopened in 1925, he took the job as principal and worked there until his retirement, at eighty (1937).  The list of his students through the years includes Henri Masson, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Ernest Fosbery, George Pepper, and Robert Tait McKenzie (see all in AskART).

His foreign travels, in addition to Europe (3), include the West Indies (c.1914) and throughout Canada from the Gaspé peninsula (Quebec) to Vancouver Island, B.C. (c.1922) (4).

Brownell was a founding member of the Canadian Art Club* (1907-1915), a member of the Ontario Society of Artists* (1899 -1907), and he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* as an associate in 1894 and an academician in 1895.

In addition to exhibiting with the above organizations he exhibited with the Boston Art Club and the National Academy of Design* (New York) in the 1880's and 1890's; with the Art Association of Montreal (5) from 1889 to 1917; with the OSA as a guest in 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1936; and with James Wilson and Company in Ottawa.

His works were also included in several landmark exhibitions notably the “World's Columbian Exhibition” (AKA: Chicago Exposition*, AKA: Chicago World’s Fair) (1893); the Paris World’s Fair (1900); the “Louisiana Purchase Exhibition”* in St. Louis (1904); in “Senior Canadian Painters” at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1913); in the “British Empire Exposition” at Wembley, England (1924); in the “Exposition d’art Canadien” at the Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1927);  and in “A Century of Canadian Art” at the Tate Gallery, London, England  (1938).

Major retrospectives of his works were held in 1922 at the National Gallery of Canada (a rare honor for a living artist), and in 1998 at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Posthumously, his works were included in “Canadians in Paris, 1867 - 1914” at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) in 1979  and “R. S. McLaughlin Collects” at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in 2004.

His works are avidly collected. They are also in numerous public collections including the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There are 29 Brownell works in the National Gallery of Canada and 16 in the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

His awards and honors include a bronze medal at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900.  He was also a member of Council for the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1901-1903), and served on the jury for the Canadian Section of Fine Arts at the 1923 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, England.

As an important Canadian artist his work is illustrated and discussed in most books about Canadian art history.  There is also the monograph, produced in conjunction with the 1998 Ottawa Art Gallery retrospective, titled North by South: The Art of Peleg Franklin Brownell,1857-1946 (1998), by Jim Burant and Robert Stacey (see AskART Book references).



(1) He came to Canada in 1885 and initially settled in Montreal (Burant and Stacey indicate he also lived in New York for a short period) before moving to Ottawa.

(2) The files of the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives are the source of the school names and teaching dates.  The overlap in 1898 and 1899 is noted and is part of their original file.

(3) According to J. Russell Harper, in a discussion about the German influence on Canadian painting, Brownell also traveled and possibly studied in Germany however, Harper provides no dates or places. (Pg 196) Painting in Canada: a History (1966). See AskART book references.

(4) A pastel painting by Brownell titled Cadboro Bay and dated 1922, is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C.  Cadboro Bay is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

(5) The AAM became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1948.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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