The Missing British Columbia Paintings
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Grafton Tyler Brown

From the newspaper, the catalogue for his exhibit and a collection of photographs taken at that time, we know of 40 of his paintings and 24 sketches and there are certainly more commissions and paintings he did that we have no record. Only one of the B.C. sketches and only 11 of his B.C. paintings have been located.

Brown painted in two main genres – landscape painting including some more documentary views of Victoria area, and what we might call “vanity” images – commissioned drawings of people’s houses, farms and businesses which they would hang on their own walls. One of these vanity drawings of George Dean’s farm, which is now, is in the collection of the BC Archives. Where are all his paintings now?

While many of his American paintings are in major collections and are well known to dealers, his British Columbia images are much rarer and only a few of them are in collections. The Victoria Art Gallery and Craigdarroch Castle have one each, and the BC Archives four. A few are known to be in private hands but most are unaccounted for and many are likely hanging in the hallways of British Columbians, or others further afield, all unaware of the stories they tell.

Browns paintings once sold for $25 to $350 but recently his best works have fetched $75,000. Have a look on your walls – do you have one of these paintings signed G.T. Brown or initialed G.T.B.? It may be worth some money, but it is certainly worth a story! If you have a Brown painting, help me fill in his story and send an image to jlutz@uvic.ca. Brown also did printing work for British Columbians, including the labels for the first salmon canned in BC, so if you have invoices, receipts, handbills, or other Brown material, I would love to hear about them.

If you have Brown material, consider donating it to a regional archives or art gallery -- it may even bring a sizeable tax deduction. I am not a dealer – merely an historian interested in this amazing character.

To see a list of all Brown’s paintings and sketches which are “missing” and which are in known collections go to “Known BC Paintings” or “Known BC Sketches.”