Anna Richards Brewster (American, 1870-1952)
Painter and book illustrator, Anna Mary Richards Brewster was born into a prominent New England family in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1870. She was the daughter of well-known seascape and landscape painter William Trost Richards and poet and writer Anna Matlock Richards, and was the sixth of eight children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Anna was educated at home by her mother, and began painting and exhibiting her work at the age of fourteen. She traveled extensively with her family throughout the northeastern United States, England, France, and Ireland. In 1888 she studied at the Cowles Art School in Boston with Dennis Bunker. She studied with William Merritt Chase in New York in 1889, and with John La Farge in Newport, Rhode Island in 1890. She also studied in London, and in Paris at the Académie Julian beginning in 1890. Brewster maintained a studio in England for ten years, first at Clovelly, then in London. In 1890 she won the Dodge Prize for the best painting by a woman artist at the National Academy of Design. Her work was also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Royal Academy, London; the Salons of America; and the Georgia Museum of Art. She continued to paint prolifically following her marriage in 1905 to William Tenney Brewster, a professor of English literature at Barnard College. Her paintings include depictions of their home surroundings at Scarsdale, New York, their summer home in Matunuck, Rhode Island, and oil sketches made on sabbatical trips through various parts of the world, including Europe and the Middle East, that she would later turn into large paintings. Brewster experimented with many different styles of painting, from romanticism, to impressionism, to realism. Like the Hudson River School painters, she strove to express the beauty and divinity of nature. She founded the Scarsdale Art Association, and helped to found the Scarsdale Women’s Club. She was also a member of the American Watercolor Society and the National Association of Women Artists. After the death of her young son in 1910, Brewster withdrew from active exhibition of her artworks. Brewster’s works can be found in the collections of the Butler Institute of American Art and the Massillon Art Museum, Ohio; the Lyman Allyn Museum of Art, Connecticut; the Museum of the City of New York; the Scarsdale Public Library; the University of Georgia Museum of Art; Harvard University; and Barnard College. In 2008 the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York, in collaboration with the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art and Science, California, presented “Anna Richards Brewster, American Impressionist”, a comprehensive exhibition encompassing the artist’s forty-five most productive years, demonstrating Brewster’s historical context and her role as a successful female artist at the beginning of the twentieth century.