John Appleton Brown, born in 1844 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, was an impressionist painter in oils and pastels of seascapes and landscapes. In 1865 Brown left his birthplace and went to Boston. The following year he traveled to Europe where he began his artistic training with oils in Paris where he studied the old masters in the Louvre. Landscape painter Emile Lambinet had influence on his style, but Barbizon painters Corot and Daubigney’s effect upon Brown would be more lasting.
Brown returned to Boston in 1868, and six years later married landscape painter Agnes Bartlett. In the fall of 1874, the couple returned to France where they painted at Ville d’Avray, Corot’s home. Returning to Boston in 1875, he became friends with artists J. Foxcroft Cole and William Morris Hunt. Works by these Barbizon artists, and those who emulated their style, such as Brown, were popular and sold well. Because of his affinity for spring scenes and blossoming apple orchards, he was nicknamed “apple-blossom Brown”. The peak of his popularity was in the late 1880s, when Boston was first exposed to Impressionist landscapes.
With the exception of a trip to England in 1886, where he mingled with American painters John Singer Sargent, Edwin Austin Abbey, Frank Millet, and Charles Parsons, Brown’s paintings focused on New England landscapes for the reminder of his career. He spent time during summers at the home of Celia Thaxter on Appledore, located among the Isles of Shoals off the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine. Thaxter, a poet and essayist, was hostess over an artistic and literary salon that attracted not only Brown, but also such names as the Impressionist painter Childe Hassam, Arthur Quartley, Ross Turner, Ellen Robbins, and William Morris Hunt (Hunt drowned at Appledore in 1879). Brown’s works were exhibited at the Doll and Richards Gallery from 1879 to 1902, and at the Salon in Paris.
J. Appleton Brown died in 1902.