Arthur Brett, 1859
Oil on unlined canvas
Signed and dated 1859
Unframed: 19 x 16 inches; Framed: 26 3/4 x 23 1/2 inches
John Brett was a committed Pre-Raphaelite, producing some of the most intensely felt and scrupulously observed landscapes of the mid-nineteenth century; whilst not a member of the Brotherhood, his paintings from the 1850s demonstrate some of the purest expression of the movement’s ideals. This portrait of Brett’s brother, Arthur, was painted between October 1858 and March 1859 whilst Brett was at work on his most ambitious early landscape, Val d’Aosta, painted under the direct instruction of John Ruskin, its first owner. As such, this remarkable portrait is a rare example of Pre-Raphaelite portraiture made at the height of Brett’s engagement with the movement. Brett’s small, cropped canvas demonstrates his extraordinary technical virtuosity, as well as, his visual inventiveness.