Bolton Brown Biography

Bolton Brown




Painter, printmaker, and ceramist Bolton Coit Brown, born in 1864, was founder of the art department at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and co-founded the Woodstock Art Colony in New York, in 1903. Brown received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Syracuse University, in New York, and he later worked with George Bellows, John Sloan, Rockwell Kent, and John Taylor Arms.


In 1902, having resigned from Stanford after being chastised for using nude models, Brown to New York at the behest of Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, to find a site suitable to establish a Utopian arts and crafts community. Inspired by the social philosophy of John Ruskin and William Morris, Brown and others wanted an arts colony that would produce hand-made pottery, furniture and other arts. Brown, Whitehead, and poet Harvey White established the colony on Overlook Mountain, but in the fall of 1903 Brown left with his family, unhappy with the outcome. They settled in Woodstock Valley.


Hoping to spark a rebirth of the lithographic art form in America, he studied the technique in England from 1915 – 1916, subsequently developing fifty techniques for preparing lithography stones and inventing formulas for more than five hundred lithographic crayons. He also wrote two books on the subject. Brown spent the next ten years involved with lithography, his expertise aiding a variety of future leading lithographers.


Brown was also a passionate mountaineer, and from 1895 to 1899 he hiked the Sierra Nevadas, creating maps and drawings of the areas he saw. In 1922 Charles Versteeg honored Brown by naming a mountain in the California Sierra Nevada after him, and “Lucy Pass” after his wife.


Bolton Coit Brown died in 1936.