Alfred Thompson Bricher

American, 1837 - 1908
The seascapes of Alfred Thompson Bricher embrace both realism and sublimity. While his works are masterpieces of beauty in great detail, they are also mesmerizing in their commitment to conveying atmospheric serenity. The widespread popularity that Bricher experience during his time, proven by his significant exhibition history, is testament to his ability to capture both literal excellence in nature as well as its figural beauty. The well-known 19th century marine painter, Alfred Thompson Bricher, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on April 10, 1837. Soon after, the Bricher family moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts where the young Alfred attended the local schools. Upon his completion of school Bricher moved to Boston, where he was employed in a dry goods store in 1851 and possibly studied at the Lowell Institute. Seven years later, at the age of twenty-one, the largely self-taught artist opened a studio in Newburyport, MA and began his artistic career. In the years to follow, Bricher traveled on sketching tours throughout New England. In the same year that he opened his studio, 1858, he traveled to Mt. Desert Island, Maine with his friend William Stanley Haseltine. By the next year, Bricher has abandoned his studio in Newburyport for a new studio in Boston. At the time, it was recorded that he had completed some twenty paintings of Long Island, New York, the Catskills, and the White Mountains. By 1864 the precocious young man was exhibiting at the Boston Athenaeum and sketching on the lower Hudson River as well as in the mountains of New Hampshire. In the mid 1860s, Bricher began to work closely with L. Prang & Company, a Boston company responsible for inventing the chromolithograph, and offered chromolithographs of his paintings through their catalogue. By 1868, Bricher had moved his studio to 40 West 30th Street in New York City, NY. This move soon paid off with the artist’s first exhibition at the National Academy of Design and at the American Society of Painters in Water Colors. Bricher would continue a close relationship with both these organizations throughout his career, exhibiting at both until his death. In 1870, he also exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association before travelling on sketching trips up and down the Hudson River and throughout New Hampshire. The following year, Bricher embraced the subject for which he would be most recognized, sketching seascapes along the Atlantic coast, on Long Island and at Narragansett, Rhode Island. It was during the last decade of the 1800s that Bricher began to experience considerable commercial success. Now exhibiting with the Schenck Art Gallery, in 1892 he sold some seventy-one watercolors and four oils for a total of $1,818.50. His reputation would continue to be greatly supported when he exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago the next year. It is important to note that although Bricher continued to experience popularity among the masses, he remained focused on natural scenic content, employing his skilled draftsmanship to realistically capture these scenes. His approach grew less popular as realism was beginning to be challenged by onset of Impressionist painting in France. For the remainder of the 1890s, Bricher exhibited works at National Academy of Design and the American Water Color Society, illustrated for The Quarterly Illustrator, and traveled on sketching trips to White Rocks and Monhegan Island, ME. In 1898, his work was carried by the Fifth Avenue Art Galleries.
Biography courtesy of Gerald Peters Gallery
Alfred Thompson Bricher paintings art & landscapes
Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bricher grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts where he was influenced by the local scenes of artist’s such as Fitz Hugh Lane and Martin Johnson Heade. By 1858, after art studies at the Lowell Institute, he was painting full time along the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts.

With his strong vision of natural beauty, Bricher caught with growing power the transcendence and luminosity of light in paintings that are filled with abiding calm and serenity. As one observer of a Bricher scene noted; "He makes water sparkle like diamonds in a silver setting". He was a close friend and associate of marine artist William Haseltine and stressed the firm horizontal format preferred by that artist.

By 1868 he had relocated his studio from Boston to New York where he continued to make pilgrimages to his favored shores of Massachusetts and Maine. At Grand Manan he painted in the footsteps of another American master, Frederic Church. He exhibited at the National Academy from 1868-1900 and was elected president of the Watercolor Society in 1873.
Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bricher began painting part-time at the Lowell Institute while he pursued a business career in Boston. He turned to painting full-time in 1858, working in Boston and Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1871, he moved to Staten Island, New York, where he remained for the rest of his life, painting oils and watercolors along the New England coast during the summer months. In 1973, the Indianapolis Museum of Art mounted a retrospective exhibition, Alfred Thompson Bricher, 1837-1908, with a catalogue by Jeffrey R. Brown. Biography courtesy of Schwarz Gallery.
The rugged cliffs of Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, with the dramatic tides of the Bay of Fundy and the quiet coastal inlets at low tide were favorite subjects of A.T. Bricher. His works appeared in the major exhibitions of the late nineteenth century and were known through illustrations for Harper's New Monthly Magazine and the popular chromolithographs of Louis Prang.

Throughout his career, Bricher remained a conservative painter. He was particularly influenced by such artists as John F. Kensett, a Hudson River school painter who inspired his interest in capturing effects of light and atmoshere. The looser handling of paint in his later works shows the influence of the Barbizon painters. F. Kensett, a Hudson River

Bricher was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1837 and spent his childhood in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he attended school. Later, he worked as a clerk in a Boston drygoods store and painted in his spare time. He may have studied art at Lowell Institute in Boston during the mid-fifties; although an 1875 article in the Art Journal states that during his early years in Boston, Bricher had little contact with other artists and was "entirely self-taught" (p. 340). The same article says that William Stanley Haseltine and Charles temple Dix (1840-1873), whom Bricher met in 1858 while sketching on Mount Desert Island, Maine had a decisive influence on his style. Haseltine's paintings of sunstruck, fissured rocks on the New England coast may have prompted Bricher to turn from landscapes to marine paintings in which large rocks dominate the foreground. He probably also knew the marine and still-life painter Martin Johnson Heade, who worked in Newburyport during the early 1860's. In addition to painting on the New England coast, Bricher went on sketching trips to the White Mountains and the Catskills and in 1866 to the upper Mississippi River and Minnesota. Bricher moved to New York in 1868. During the 1870's, he occupied a studio in the YMCA Building. He was a member of the American Society of Painters in Water Colors and an associate of the National Academy of Design. In 1882, while maintaining a studio in New York, he built a summer home in Southampton, Long Island, to be closer to the sea. From 1890 until his death in 1908, he lived in New Dorp, Staten Island.

Public Collections:
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries,
Bricher's subtle and serene style classifies him as the premier painter of light-enshrined landscapes and seascapes. Ranked among such notable luminists as Martin Johnson Heade and John Frederick Kensett, Bricher is especially known for his coastal scenes painted in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Long Island between 1870 and 1890. Bricher exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Athenaeum, the Brooklyn Art Association, and the Boston Art Club. Today, his paintings can be seen at The White House, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in Madrid.

Biography courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art LLC,
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