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 Harrison Bird Brown  (1831 - 1915)

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Lived/Active: California/Maine / England      Known for: landscape, marine, and portrait painter, survey artist

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Henry Box Brown aka. Harrison Bird Brown (1831-1915) was born in Portland, Maine in 1831.  At 15 Brown was apprenticed to house, sign, and ship painters in Portland.  By 1852 he was working in Harrison Eastman's engraving shop in San Francisco.  He changed his name to Harrison Bird Brown after working with Eastman, and by 1860 he was back in Maine where he became one of that state's most successful painters of landscapes and marines. After moving to England in 1892, he lived in London until his demise on March 10, 1915. 

Exh:  NAD, 1858-60. 

In:  Portland Museum.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
¶  Fld;  G&W; AAW;  Ben; Sam.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Harrison Bird Brown was born in 1831 in Portland, Maine, and is best known for his White Mountain landscapes and marine paintings of Maine's Casco Bay.  By 1860, Brown was being praised as a leading American marine painter. Known also as Harry B., Henry B., and some times mistakenly as Henry Box Brown (Eason), he began an apprenticeship at age 21 with house and ship painters Forbes and Wilson. He then became a banner and sign painter, under the name "H. B. Brown, Banner & Ornamental, Painter".

Landscape painting was popular in the mid 19th century, thanks in part to the influence of Charles Codman (1800-1842), whose paintings were collected for their very romantic sentiments.  It is possible that Brown saw examples of Codman's poetic paintings, and was influenced by his works.

Brown was one of the early artists to paint the coastline of Maine's Monhegan Island, where he depicted the headlands as awesome, mystical forces. Humanity versus nature, and the human relationship to nature, themes prevalent in mid and late-19th century literature and philosophy, figured frequently in his seascapes.

He often painted in the White Mountains, and his name can be found in the guest registers of many places artists frequented in those mountains.  The  coast of Maine was also a favorite painting venue of Brown's for over thirty years.  He depicted the wholesome outdoor environment of the state, with special fondness for the Casco Bay area and Grand Manan, an island off the New Brunswick, Canada coast.  Brown also produced two widely distributed illustrations of Crawford Notch for the Maine Central Railroad in 1890.

Harrison Bird Brown exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York from 1858 to 1860, and at the Boston Athenaeum and Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876.  By 1892 he had become the best known native Maine painter of his time, and gained fame for himself and the state with a large canvas in the Maine pavilion of the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago.  In 1892 he was elected president of the Portland Society of Art.

That same year, however, he moved to England to be with his only surviving child, a daughter, and spent the last twenty-three years of his life there.  He died in England in 1915, and his work has been preserved at the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and at the Portland Museum of Art.  Most of his paintings were completed in New England before he moved to London, but he continued to paint until his death in 1915.

Harrison Bird Brown's works can be seen at the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and at the Portland Museum of Art.

Sources include:
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
James Eason, Archivist for Pictorial Collections, The Bancroft Library

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