Mary Cummings Browne (1861-1939)

  • Mary Cummings Browne (1861-1939)
  • Portrait of a Man, c. 1870-1880
  • Pencil on paper
  • 10 x 7 inches
  • Estate of the Artist

Mary Cummings Browne (also Brown) was born in 1861 in Newark, New Jersey to Matilda and Leonard P. Browne, a superintendent of a jewelry manufacturer. Browne was the eldest of four children. Her sister Matilda Browne (1869-1947) was a noted American Impressionist known as the “American Rosa Bonheur” due to her penchant for painting farm scenes and cattle. Matilda, crippled by an accident at the age of eight and unable to play with other children amused herself by watching her neighbor, the artist Thomas Moran (1837-1926) at work. Moran took pity on the child an offered her a pencil and crayon which was the start of her life as an artist.[1] Matilda began painting at the age of twelve and went on to study in Paris in 1889 under Julian DuPre. She further studied under American artists Eleanor (1854-1917) and Kathleen Greatorex (1851-1942) and Carleton Wiggins (1848-1932). Matilda Browne was the first woman artist member of the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony.[2]

While few records exist of Mary C. Browne’s early life it is likely that she too studied under Thomas Moran and his artist wife Mary Nimmo Moran (1842-1899). The Moran’s moved to Newark in 1872 when Mary was 11 and Matilda just a toddler. It is also likely that Mary learned the art of etching alongside Mary Nimmo Moran who began experimenting with etching in 1879 and made her first prints in Newark.[3]

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Mary Cummings Browne Portrait of a Man, c. 1870-1880