Snoqualmie Falls

Grafton Tyler Brown American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 765

Brown is known as the first African American artist to paint landscapes of California and the Pacific Northwest. This dynamic scene may represent Yellowstone National Park, a great source of inspiration for the artist in 1886. Born to free black parents, Brown moved with his family from Pennsylvania to Sacramento, California, as a teenager in 1858. Having learned the art of lithographywhile working for a printer in Philadelphia, he opened his own firm, in 1878, in San Francisco, specializing in topographical images of the city. He left the Bay Area in 1882 and moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where he participated in the Amos Bowman Geological Survey, documenting the Cascade Mountains. In 1884, he moved back to the U.S., traveling and painting throughout the west, including Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. His paintings were popular, and his canny market sense brought him a degree of economic success. Brown’s distinctive brushwork and vistas reveal his training in topography, aligning his self-taught work with other more academic survey artists, such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran.

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