The show is designed to shed light on the reasons for Brewster’s current obscurity as well as on the art market at the turn of the 20th Century. She started painting at the age of 14, had a studio in England for nine years and exhibited and sold both in Europe and in America. She continued to paint prolifically after her marriage to Barnard College English professor William Tenney Brewster in 1905, making oil sketches during their sabbatical travels around the world.
|DEVOUT READING, CLOVELLY, c. 1895-96
Although she had her husband’s encouragement and has been called one of the best-known American women artists at the turn of the century, today, although her work is in the permanent collections of several museums and Barnard College, few have heard of her or seen her paintings. This was due, in part, to her refusal to actively market her work after the death of her son in 1910, and in part to her experimentation with many different styles of expression. This made it difficult to categorize her work and for dealers to sell it.
To understand this phenomenon better, the exhibition is organized by style, from the Barbizon-influenced romanticism of her fantasy A Knight Errant, through the impressionist, loaded brush style of many of her landscapes and portraits like Devout Reading, Clovelly, to the harshly lit realism of her Hopperesque Steam Table.
Through the generosity of several lenders, this exhibition’s organization allows a new audience to look again at the several styles in which she worked and to consider their meaning. Click on Checklist to find images of all the works in the exhibition.