James Brade Sword (1839-1915)

Landscape, portrait, and genre painter James Brade Sword was born in Philadelphia in 1839 into a family of international merchants. He spent most of his childhood in Macao, China, but attended high school in Philadelphia, graduating from Central High School in 1855. He became a civil engineer, working on the enlargement of the Union Canal from Lebanon to Reading, PA, and serving with the United States Coastal Survey on the steam ship Walker in Atchafalaya Bay, Louisiana in 1857. In 1858 he was employed in the building of a railroad tunnel through Broad Mountain in Pennsylvania. By 1863 Sword had turned his attention to sketching and painting and enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He studied with landscape artist George Washington Nicholson in 1863, and later with William Trost Richards. Sword became known for his portrait and landscape painting. He traveled and painted throughout eastern Pennsylvania; along the New Jersey shore; in the White Mountains of New Hampshire; the Adirondack Mountains of New York; and in Newport, Rhode Island. He bought a house at 8 Newport Street in Jamestown on Conanicut Island and rented the Town Hall as a studio. Sword was president of the Philadelphia Artists’ Fund Society, president of the Philadelphia Society of Artists, and a founder of the Art Club of Philadelphia. His works were exhibited at: the Brooklyn Art Association; the National Academy of Design; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the Boston Art Club; the 1885 New Orleans Exposition; the American Art Society of Philadelphia; and the Art Institute of Chicago. The artist died in Philadelphia in 1915. Sword’s works are held among the collections of: the University of Pennsylvania; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the Colby College Museum of Art; the Farnsworth Art Museum; the Brigham Young University Museum of Art; the Reading Public Museum; and the Yale University Art Gallery. He was selected by Congress in 1911 to paint a portrait of former Speaker of the House, John W. Jones. The portrait can be viewed in the House of Representatives’ Speaker’s Lobby at the US Capitol.

Boathouse View with Lobster Traps, Conanicut Island, Rhode Island c. 1880

by James Brade Sword (1839-1915)

Medium DetailWatercolor on paper
Dimensions9 ½ x 14 ¼ inches; F:17 3/4 x 22 1/2 inches
Signed LocationLower left
Date Createdc.1880

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