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Samuel Marsden Brookes (American, 1816-1892)

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Directory: Archives: Fine Art: Pre 1900: Item # 891660

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524 North Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

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Samuel Marsden Brookes (American, 1816-1892)

Tabletop Still Life of Herring

Oil on canvas laid to masonite, signed.

Painting size: 4.75” x 7.15”

Frame size: 9.5” x 12”

Born in 1816 to a prominent family in Newington Green, Middlesex, England, Brookes immigrated to the United States when he was 17. Unable to receive any formal art education in rural Illinois, Brookes was still determined to forge on with an artistic career. His only teachers came in the form of two migrant portrait painters. Observing their technique would be the only formal training he would ever receive. However, he continued to educate himself, and in 1845 and 1846 he traveled to the National Gallery London and Hampton Court Palace to copy works from their painting collections.

After returning to the United States he worked in both Milwaukee and San Francisco. He became a leader in San Francisco’s art community, and was a founding member of the Bohemian Art Association as well as the San Francisco Art Association.

Brookes was a noted portrait painter, but during his time in California he became a master still life painter, especially of fish. During the nineteenth century this untrained artist from backwoods Illinois was considered one of the greatest still life painters of his time.

Source: Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California: 1786-1940. Vol. II.