Home Artists Sameul Marsden Brooks

Sameul Marsden Brooks

Sameul Marsden Brooks

About the artist

log cabin near what was the newly founded town of Chicago.  Young Samuel found himself at seventeen far from any center for the study of art.  His first training consisted of observing itinerant artists who traveled the frontier in those days painting portraits. In 1841, he paid a Chicago artist for some painting instruction, the only formal training he was ever to have.

Biography

Noted for his portraits, landscapes, and especially still life paintings of fish, Samuel Marsden Brooks was born in Newington Green, Middlesex, England in 1816.  In 1833 the Brooks family immigrated to the United States.  After landing in New York, the family continued on to Illinois, where they settled in a log cabin near what was the newly founded town of Chicago.  Young Samuel found himself at seventeen far from any center for the study of art.  His first training consisted of observing itinerant artists who traveled the frontier in those days painting portraits. In 1841, he paid a Chicago artist for some painting instruction, the only formal training he was ever to have.

Brooks moved to Milwaukee in 1842, where he met and married. He and his wife moved about as Samuel pursued his career as a frontier portrait painter. By 1845 he had saved enough money to return to Europe to study the works of the old masters. Brooks spent a year copying masterpieces in the galleries of London, and this was to be the foundation for the rest of his career. In 1846 he returned to the US. In the late 1850s, Brooks decided to travel to California and liked what he discovered in San Francisco.  The family settled into a home in the Mission District of the city, and Samuel Brooks established a studio on Clay Street, where he once again began working as a painter of portraits. Soon he became a well-known figure in San Francisco. He became involved in efforts to establish an art union, and in 1865 helped to found the California Art Union, a forerunner of the San Francisco Art Association, of which he later became vice president. 

Brooks became renowned for his skill in painting fish, both living and dead, with exquisite accuracy, especially the silvery sheen of their scales.  Samuel Brooks continued to paint in his Clay Street studio until the time of his death in 1892, at age seventy-six.

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