Alfred Thompson Bricher, (1837- 1908)
One of the last of the Luminist painters, Alfred Thompson Bricher was known principally for oil and watercolor paintings of the coast of New England. He brought to a close the cult of nature painting that was started by Thomas Cole and was carried on by such men as Martin Johnson Heade, Frederic Edwin Church and William Haseltine. Many of his sweeping panoramas of the coastline, although well done, suffered from a sameness of format in the opinion of some critics.
Bricher was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1837. As a teenager he went to Boston to find a job in business and spent his spare time painting at the Lowell Institute. In 1858, he began painting full-time. For the next 10 years, he worked in Boston and Newburyport, north of Boston.
In 1871, he moved to New York and settled on Staten Island. Every summer, however, he went North to sketch and paint on Grand Manan Island and on the shores of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. His particular strength was his ability to capture the translucent appearance of the sea and the crispness of the horizon under a luminous sky.
While Bricher displayed a sure linear touch in his oil paintings, there was a greater freedom in his watercolors. His subject matter in the watercolor was more varied, too. Some of his female figures in the medium bear comparison to those that Winslow Homer was painting in the 1870s.
Bricher died in New Dorp on Staten Island in 1908. In the years that followed, his work was largely forgotten. The 1980s had rediscovered him, and now he is looked upon as one of the better marine painters of his time.
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City