Benjamin Chambers Brown
Benjamin Brown studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. In 1886 he made a trip to California with his parents who were considering moving to Pasadena. While in California he made numerous pencil sketches of landmarks. He returned to St. Louis where he continued his studies and then opened his own art school in Little Rock while specializing in portrait painting.
In 1890 Brown went to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian for one year. After returning to the United States, he moved to Pasadena in 1896. He continued to work as a portrait painter, but finding few patrons for his works, began also to paint the landscape.
Brown was active with many of the developing art societies in Southern California. He was also an etcher and, along with his brother, Howell (1880-1954), founded the Print Makers Society of California which sponsored annual international print exhibitions for many years.
As an avid impressionist, Brown was outspoken in his criticism of other styles of art. He had patrons both in California and in the East. Hoping to encourage more sales, one New York dealer suggested that Brown open a studio there and conceal the fact that he was from California. Brown flatly refused and defiantly began painting the word “California” beneath his signature, affirming his pride in being a Californian.
Oil on canvas, c. 1915
24 x 18 inches
Gift of Mrs. William Griffith