Born in Ruddington, near Nottingham, Brown studied at Nottingham School of Art under Andrew McCallum. From 1889 to 1892 he attended the Herkomer School of Art at Bushey. One of the earliest visiting painters to West Cornwall, during the early 1990s he worked from St Ives and Carbis Bay.
An artist giving the name Alfred BROWN exhibited two paintings, A Rough Pasture and A North-west Breeze, in the Dowdeswell Exhibition of 1890, and - if this is the same person - indicates association with the Newlyn and St Ives painters even earlier. Also at this period he began exhibiting at the RA. The Drinking Pool, purchased by Manchester in 1895, is a well known and iconic representation of his work in genre.
Popular for his atmospheric treatment of sea and coastal subjects with brooding skies, he helped bring St Ives landscape and marine painting to national prominence, being made one of the first honorary members of STISA in the 1930s.
At the Opening Exhibition of NAG in 1895 he showed a landscape entitled Wherries running down to Yarmouth. A major retrospective exhibition of his work was held in 1935 at Norwich Castle Museum, and in 1938 he was knighted. Sir John was also well-known for his Norfolk and Suffolk landscapes, although he did paint some portraits. He was a Royal Academician who deliberately resisted Modernist influences, annd was one of the signatures on the Glanville letter of November 1898 concerned about development schemes in St Ives.
His work The Raincloud, was selected for the 1988 RA Exhibition The Edwardians and After (1900-1950 paintings). He was married to the artist Mia Edwards (see separately under Mia Arnesby BROWN), who predeceased him. He died in Norfolk, his alternative home to that in St Ives for many years.
Painter of landscapes and portraits
works and access
Works include: The road to the Bay, Cornwall; Wherries running down to Yarmouth (1895); St Ives, Cornwall (1914); Lelant Marshes
Access to works: Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki
His painting Morning was purchased by the Chantrey Bequest Fund
Study for 'The Labourers' (1898) at Falmouth Art Gallery
NAG (1) Opening Exhibition May 1895
RA (141) 1891,1914 (STIT) RA 1920
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg 1912
Porthmeor Gallery, St Ives Summer 1929
Norwich Castle Museum Retrospective exhibition 1935;
RA (1) The Edwardians and After (paintings 1900-1950) 1988
2012: 'Effortless Brushstrokes', Falmouth Art Gallery 11 Feb - 14 Apr
STISA 1915, 1928-1947
STIAC1898 (President 1904)
misc further info
Baldry (1902) ‘Our Rising Artists: Arnesby Brown’ Magazine of Art (pp 97-102)
Baldry (1921) Modern Painting III: The Work of Arnesby Brown
Marriott (1917) ‘The Recent Work of Arnesby Brown R A’ The Studio 71 (pp129-37)
Cornishman & Cornish Telegraph 10 Jul 1929
St Ives Times 31 May 1912, 8 May 1914, 14 May 1920 [from WMN
Chantrey Bequest list: Tate Online
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery;
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall
Stevens (1988) The Edwardians and After (Exhibition catalogue, Illus)
Tovey (2000) GF Bradshaw & STISA (Appendix 3: Principal Members of STISA 1927-1960)
Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash;
Tovey (2009) St Ives: Social History (reproduction of Glanville Letter)
Whybrow (1994) St Ives