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Mary Brady (American, born Ireland, 1867-1940)

Sand Dunes in Monterey, 1895

Sand Dunes in Monterey, 1895

Oil on canvas 23 in. x 27 in. (58.42 cm x 68.58 cm)

Crocker Art Museum, Melza and Ted Barr Collection


  • In the 1890s, Mary Brady was one of the most progressive artists of her day. She was the first California woman to spend significant time in Giverny, France, and was influenced by the work of Claude Monet and by other international artists who went to Giverny to be near his famous studio. Born in Ireland, Brady came to California with her family in 1880. She began her art studies at the California School of Design in the mid-1880s, and continued her training in France at the Académie Julian in Paris. She spent more than two months in Giverny beginning in late September 1889, and made subsequent visits in the spring of 1890 and the fall of 1892. Upon her return, she began to frequent the Monterey Peninsula, applying her newly learned Impressionist techniques to the California landscape. In 1895, Brady painted Sand Dunes in Monterey, exhibiting it the following year with the Society of American Artists in New York, where she had moved. With this painting the San Francisco Call declared that: Miss Brady has achieved a distinct success. Her “Sand Dunes in California” are unmistakably under a Monterey sky. The light is very sharp and keen, the drawing in the middle distance, the edge of the shore, the flat smoothness of the rocks, is remarkable. . . . The canvas is so vital it makes the portraits and landscapes around it seem washed in watercolor or printed on paper.1 By 1898, Brady returned to her native San Jose, but later moved back to San Francisco. She lived briefly in Monterey in the 1920s and died in Santa Clara.

    1. San Francisco Call, 17 May 1896.

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