So long as criticism finds my 'Old English Architecture' tolerable, and has '. . . admiration' for my landscape and figures, it seems sensible to plug away still at Old English Architecture -- (Only, I 'hate' topographical pictures, and 'despise' picturesqueness). [3/29/1898]
Anna Richards Brewster’s Styles of Painting
Most artists who become commercially viable develop a signature style, which makes it simpler for dealers to market and sell their work. Perhaps it was because she knew how difficult it was to enter the male-dominated world of art promotion and may not have considered it possible to follow a traditional path to success, that Anna Richards Brewster felt free to paint in all the styles to which she was attracted. Many of her works uncannily invoke the styles of artists she responded to : Turner, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, George Frederick Watts and later even Edward Hopper. Brewster was not particularly concerned with creating an immediately visible artistic “signature” in order to make it more saleable. She also followed her teacher John LaFarge’s view that what was on the canvas was to be an expression of the essence of the artist, and that therein lay its value. Fueled by that idea as well as LaFarge’s assertion that “originality does not consist in looking like no one else, but merely in causing to pass into our own work some personal view of the world and of life” she pursued her own expressive interest at the cost of lasting commercial success and fame.
Brewster was highly sensitive to the natural world and, like the Pre-Raphaelites among whom she worked for a time, was attentive to pictorial detail, but in a much less decorative, more loosely brushed way. Her paintings were competently rendered, fully realized examples of what was then called the “fast-brush” style of painting, what we would today call impressionist; a combination of the careful drawing techniques she had learned from her father, and freer, more expressive style of her teacher William Merritt Chase. She searched throughout her life to find ways of expressing her reverence for nature, and wrestled with methods of recording and interpreting light, color, and most elusively, the grandeur of spirit which she saw in landscape.
Copyright © 2002
Anna Richards Brewster, American Impressionist
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