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Charles De Wolf Brownell
Three-Thorned Acacia, East Hartford, Connecticut

1862

About

Brownell painted close to home in New England, creating delicately painted works that captured the serene local environments. Many of these follow in the tradition of the Hudson River School, as he selected the same New England views popular with other artists of the time; others portray subjects in his home states of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Three-Thorned Acacia is a close, detailed study of the texture of the branch and bark of the acacia tree, situated in the inhabited landscape of East Hartford, Connecticut, with a house and chimney in the background. Charles De Wolf Brownell became established in the mid-nineteenth century, at the same time as Hudson River School painting was entering its peak period of the century. His intricate drawings and paintings of nature are some of the most personal and closely observed works of the era. A life-long traveler, Brownell produced small, carefully rendered watercolors that served as personal souvenirs and a comprehensive visual diary of his journeys. Brownell adopted the medium of watercolor in the early 1850s, as it was experiencing a renaissance in America. While Brownell was not specifically affiliated with the American Pre-Raphaelites, he shared their admiration for the watercolor medium and its ability to clearly represent the minute details of nature. He produced numerous watercolor sketches of individual nature studies as well as broader landscape views, which he bound into books and kept until his death. Brownell is also considered to be one of the first American artists to paint the tropics, and is particularly known for his work in Cuba. He traversed the island thoroughly, each step of the way with a sketchbook and watercolors in hand, to a much greater extent than any other American landscape artist of his time. Starting in 1853, he spent seven consecutive winters in Cuba, where his mother's family had sugar plantations. He spent much time in the Matanzas and Pinar del Rio provinces of Western Cuba, producing close studies of the native vegetation. Throughout his career, Brownell traveled to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, and the American Southwest, sketching and painting the sites he visited. Charles De Wolf Brownell was born in Rhode Island in 1822 and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. He studied law and pursued a career as a lawyer from 1843-1853. He abandoned his law practice after discovering his passion for landscape painting, which he realized during sketching trips he took with artist Henry Bryant in the Connecticut River Valley. He then trained with local artists Julius Theodore Busch and Joseph C. Ropes. In 1857, Brownell worked in a studio in Hartford and relocated to New York City in 1860. He became acquainted with Hudson River School painters such as Frederic Church and John Frederick Kensett, and was quickly immersed into the New York art scene. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1861, 1862, 1864, and 1865. In 1863 he exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association, where he showed both American and Cuban landscapes. His work is represented in many public collections throughout the country, including the Wadsworth Athenaeum, CT; the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; and the Princeton University Art Museum, NJ. Watercolor on paper, 8 ⅜ x 5 ¼ inches (unframed) Inscribed and dated lower left: E.H. Oct. 30-62 Inscribed at upper left: N.

Details

  • Dimensions

    H 17 in. x W 13.63 in.

    H 43.18 cm x W 34.63 cm

  • Gallery location
    New York, NY
  • Reference number
    LU73632625143

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