Malki-Ballena Press Books

The California Sketches of Henry B. Brown, 1851-52


An Artist’s Portfolio

by Thomas Blackburn

Hardcover: $30

Product Details

Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Malki Museum Press (2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0939046458
ISBN-13: 978-0939046454

Description

Over a century and a half ago, during the waning moments of the frenzied search for gold that was in the process of tragically altering California’s landscape and the lives of her native peoples forever, an obscure artist named Henry B. Brown set out to capture—in a series of beautifully rendered drawings—the scenery and lifeways to be found in the Sierra foothills and Sacramento Valley. The result was a collection of drawings that depict both a world on the verge of profound change and the agents of that change. Here are pristine landscapes, Native Americans quietly going about their daily lives, turbulent mining camps, and empathetic portraits of some of the men and women that Brown encountered. While most depictions of Native Americans created at the time seem almost generic in their approach, in Brown’s drawings the viewer discovers real people and is struck by the realization that these are specific individuals that one would recognize if they were encountered in a contemporary setting. An Artist’s Portfolio contains 37 of Brown’s finest drawings—many never previously published or correctly attributed to Brown—that attest to both his skill as an artist and his fundamental humanity. Thomas Blackburn has drawn upon the resources of several widely scattered archives to recreate Brown’s portfolio and place his images in context, and in the process has rescued an almost forgotten artist from unwarranted obscurity.