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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Frederick Brown (1851-1941), Painter and teacher

Art teacher and artist; born 14 March 1851, in Chelmsford, Essex. Trained at National Art Training School and later in Paris; exhibited at Royal Academy 1879–91; director of Westminster Art School 1877–92, where students included Aubrey Beardsley and Henry Tonks; founder member of and regular exhibitor at the New English Art Club 1886–1941; Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College London 1892–1917, where he promoted drawing and individuality and recruited gifted colleagues including Tonks, Philip Wilson Steer and Ambrose McEvoy; died 8 January 1941 in Richmond, Surrey.

Physically, Brown was described as ‘lean and spare’ and temperamentally ‘rock-like’ but possessing ‘deep sincerity and sympathy’ beneath ‘a somewhat severe exterior’.[1] According to one student, he was ‘a rather grim figure in a black frock-coat’, with prominent jaw muscles, ‘as if his teeth were permanently clenched, [which] gave him the look of one who would stand no nonsense. Nor would he.’[2] His friend Dugald Sutherland MacColl, however, said that Brown had ‘the art of ruling a school without appearing to use any means of discipline … [moreover] teaching itself would appear to be a pleasure to him, from the steady and equal attention he bestows on his least promising pupils’.[3]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Charlton 1959.
2) Schwabe 1943, p.141.
3) MacColl 1894, p.409.

Referencesback to top

Baker 2004a
Baker, A.P., ‘Brown, Frederick (1851–1941)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., October 2009.

Beardsley 1904
Beardsley, A., Under the Hill, London and New York, 1904.

Black & Martin 2007
Black, J., and B. Martin, eds, Dora Gordine: Sculptor, Artist, Designer, London, 2007.

Brophy 1976
Brophy, B., Beardsley and His World, London, 1976.

Charlton 1959
Charlton, G., ‘Brown, Frederick (1851–1941)’, DNB, Oxford, 1959.

Liddiard 1975
Liddiard, J., Isaac Rosenberg: The Half-Used Life, London, 1975.

MacColl 1894
MacColl, D.S., ‘Professor Brown: Teacher and Painter’, Magazine of Art, September 1894, pp.403–10.

McConkey 2006
McConkey, K., The New English: A History of the New English Art Club, London, 2006.

PCF (Slade and UCL) 2005
Public Catalogue Foundation, Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in London: The Slade School of Fine Art and University College London Art Collections, London, 2005.

Schwabe 1943
Schwabe, R., ‘Three Teachers: Brown, Tonks and Steer’, Burlington Magazine, June 1943, pp.141–5.