Daniel Putnam Brinley (1879–1963)

Born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1879, Daniel Putnam Brinley made a significant artistic impact throughout his career. Brinley commenced his formal studies at the Art Students League of New York from 1900–1902, under John Henry Twachtman, Bryson Borroughs, Kenyon Cox, and H. Siddons Mowbray. Shortly after, in 1904, the artist traveled to Paris and Florence, to further his education in the arts. While in Europe, Brinley became associated with artists John Marin and Max Weber, with whom he helped to found the New Society of American Painters, in Paris. During his time abroad, the artist regularly exhibited in the annual Paris Salons. Upon returning to the United States, Brinley enthusiastically embraced the New York art world, exhibiting at Alfred Stieglitz’s Little Galleries in 1910. Notably, the artist also served on the Domestic Committee, the Publicity Committee, and the Reception Committee for the highly influential 1913 Armory Show, in which he also exhibited, accompanied by the world’s leading artists. Deeply influenced by the art he viewed in Europe and at the Armory Show, Brinley developed a unique style—a vibrant mélange of Impressionism, Realism, and Modernism.

Hailed as “the first real colorist America ha[d] produced since Hassam,”[1] Brinley’s stylistic evolution remained consistently loyal to his use of color. Reflecting on time spent at the Art Student’s League summer school, where he studied under Birge Harrison in 1908, the artist recalls, “Everyone was going along in a kind of slop brown and were as devoid of color as anything you can imagine. I, not belonging to the school and not caring what I did went along in my natural way… and packed all the color I could into [my sketches].”[2] Enamored with the Connecticut landscape that surrounded him throughout his life, Brinley applied his method to paint a variety of timeless landscapes. A contemporary critic from the Newark Evening News distinguished the artist’s style as “sane and sound art arranged by a colorist with remarkable gifts of talents, if not genius, for Brinley appreciates the necessity of bottoming his art on facts of nature… [H]e has caught the sunlight at white heat and painted the world in its gayest raiment.”[3] This trademark use of light and color which Brinley first adopted from the French Impressionists, and later merged with Modernist techniques gleaned from the Armory show, defines his distinctive style, the basis for his efficacious career.

A crucial member of multiple art associations, Brinley thrived as a founder of both Grand Central Art Galleries and the Silvermine Guild of Artists, serving as Vice-President and President for the latter. Additionally, Brinley was a member of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, an elected Associate of the National Academy of Design, and an elected life member of the National Arts Club, in addition to many other important titles and accolades. Later in his career, Brinley undertook several public art projects in New York which include murals in the Brooklyn Savings Bank, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Building, and the Daily News Building.

During his lifetime, the artist exhibited at such prominent institutions as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Carnegie Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Society of Independent Artists, the National Academy of Design, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Brinley’s works are included in the permanent collections of Bush Holley House, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the National Academy of Design, the Florence Griswold Museum, and the Woodstock Art Association Museum, New York.

[1] Elizabeth M. Loder, D. Putnam Brinley: Impressionist and Mural Painter (Yarmouth, Maine: Brinley Associates, 1983), 19.
[2] Ibid., 13.
[3] Ibid., 17.

Email or share this artist