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 Alfred Laurens Brennan  (1853 - 1921)

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: drawing-historical views, magazine illustration

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Ad Code: 3
Alfred Laurens Brennan
from Auction House Records.
Cale, Bravest of the Apaches
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography was submitted by Robin L. Wallace, Reference Specialist of The Filson Club Historical Society.

Alfred Laurens Brennan, illustrator, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of John Fletcher and Evangeline Brennan. His father, a Canadian writer and publisher, served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Brennan's mother came of Pennsylvania Quaker stock. After the war, the family relocated to Cincinnati. Brennan was educated at private schools and Saint Dustan's College, Prince Edward Island, 1861-65, and by private tutors, 1865-71. His father wanted him to take up printing, but Brennan preferred art.

Brennan's art studies began at the School of Design (University of Cincinnati), where he won a gold medal and an assistant professorship for one year. Later he worked with Frank Duveneck and H. F. Farny. After two years in Philadelphia, he settled in New York City circa 1879. He remained there, with an interval in Brookline, Massachusetts (1903-08) on an advertising contract, until his death.

Brennan attained an unsurpassed skill in pen-and-ink illustrations and was considered a commanding figure during the height of this medium during the eighties and nineties. Pennell pronounced him "the finest technician in America," and added that "there is probably no one living who has a greater knowledge of the requirements an limitations and possibilities of process."

Brennan's assiduous courtship of the medium resulted in a large number of drawings, 7,000 or more. His illustrations, including delightful head and tail pieces, appeared in the "Century," "St. Nicholas," "Life," and other periodicals. Brennan also designed book and magazine covers, and painted in watercolor and oils. At the time of his death, Brennan was doing a series of watercolors reminiscent of his boyhood days. He also worked as a magazine critic of art and books using his own name and the pseudonym "Dick Laurens."

Brennan had a picturesque personality, was fastidious, an eccentric dresser, a keen wit, and an expert pistol shot. On February 14, 1883, he married Lucy Lee, a New Yorker, and they had five children. After he had been ill in St. Luke's Hospital in Flatbush, Brooklyn, N.Y. for two months, Brennan passed away in 1921.

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