Friday, July 22, 2011

William Cary Brazington (1865-1914)

William Cary Brazington was born the year the Civil War ended and died two weeks before World War I began. His life and career were brief, and few today know him or his work. An illustrator and portraitist, Brazington exhibited in Indianapolis, studied in Paris, and worked in Indianapolis and New York City before illness brought his career to a close.

Brazington was born on November 9, 1865, in the small town of Westfield, Indiana, and turned eighteen during the First Annual Exhibition of the Art Association of Indianapolis, which took place in November 1883, and where his work was shown, perhaps for the first time in public. Between 1884 and 1898, he kept a studio in Indianapolis. During that time, he married Ida M. Aldrich in Indianapolis. Brazington also exhibited at the Fifth Annual Exhibition of the Art Association of Indianapolis in May 1888 and at another exhibition, Recent Work of Home Artists, in Indianapolis, in January 1898.

Brazington studied art under Jean-Paul Laurens and William-Adolphe Bouguereau at the Académie Julian in Paris. He also studied under the post-impressionists Charles Cottet and Lucien Simon, two of the so-called "Bande noire" or Nubians, named for their dark canvases. The Indiana artist worked in New York City for perhaps a decade before suffering a nervous breakdown in 1910. According to his obituary, Brazington "abandoned his profession almost entirely" and returned to Indianapolis. In hopes of regaining his health, he repaired to Arizona in 1912-1913. He returned yet again to Indianapolis--actually to Southport, to the home of his sister--in April 1914. William Cary Brazington died at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis on July 12, 1914, and was buried at another Indianapolis landmark, Crown Hill Cemetery.

Although Brazington has been called an illustrator, I have not uncovered any of his illustrative work. When he is mentioned at all, he is referred to instead as a portraitist in sanguine, or conté crayon.

A portrait drawing of Eugene Ysaÿe, the Belgian composer and musician, by William Cary Brazington.

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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