George E. Browne (1871-1946)

George E. Browne (1871-1946)

Born in Gloucester in 1871, George Elmer Browne showed artistic talent at an early age, and began his studies at the Museum School, under Edmund Tarbell and Frank Benson, and the Cowles Art School, with Joseph DeCamp and Ernest Lee Major. Browne was a member of the Salmagundi Club, receiving numerous awards over the years, the National Academy of Design and the Allied Artists of America, among other associations, and exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery and the Paris Salon. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Milwaukee Art Museum, among other venerable institutions. 

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Like many artists of his time, Browne went abroad to Paris around 1895 to the study in the academic tradition of the Académie Julian with LeFebvre and Robert-Fleury. Browne was highly regarded in France and maintained an association with the country throughout his lifetime. He began submitting his work to the Paris Salon, and in 1904, the French government bought his painting Bait Sellers of Cape Cod at the Salon exhibition. Twenty years later, they would purchase a second work and nominated the artist as an Officer of Public Instruction and Fine Arts. In 1936, he was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.

Upon returning to the United States, Browne established a studio in New York City and spent his summers teaching at the artists’ colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Instructing his students at his Browne Art Classes between 1919 and 1945, he stressed the use of keynote colors throughout the composition and was once quoted to say, “Drawing should be like writing a letter to a friend. It should aim more at conveying a personal reaction to the subject matter rather than a display of virtuosity.” Browne’s own work consisted of landscapes with dominant skies in the manner of Constable, noted for their strong compositions and use of color, and also marine and ship paintings, often done under moonlit skies.

Reference: Who Was Who In American Art (1999); Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, 2004, National Academy of Design, edited by David B. Dearinger.

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