Maurice Braun (American, 1877-1941)

Foothills, 1934

Foothills, 1934

Oil on canvas 40 in. x 42 in. (101.6 cm x 106.68 cm)

Crocker Art Museum, Melza and Ted Barr Collection


  • Born in Hungary, Maurice Braun moved with his family to New York City at age four. He began his formal art training at the National Academy of Design in 1897 and then studied with the American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. In 1902, after visiting museums in central Europe, he began to produce portraits and landscapes. Braun arrived in California in 1909 and settled in San Diego, where he presented his first solo exhibition in 1911. The following year, he founded the San Diego Academy of Art and became its director. In addition to California subjects, most of which were drawn from the San Diego region, many of his paintings depict the landscape around Old Lyme, Connecticut. Braun’s decision to move to San Diego was made in part because the Theosophical Society, a group whose religious philosophy he followed, was headquartered in the neighborhood of Point Loma. The Society provided Braun with his initial studio, and later the artist built a home and studio nearby. Braun socialized with the artists and writers who lived there and was influenced by their belief in the interconnectedness of the universe and the essential unity of nature. Braun himself credited Theosophy with sharpening his mystical insights into nature.1 Instead of rendering the landscapes he painted in exacting detail, he sought to visualize and interpret the “fantasy” of his imagination through light and color.2

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