John Brewster Jr. (1766-1854) was one of the most prominent early American portrait painters. His hauntingly beautiful portraits have a directness and intensity of vision that were rarely equaled, as the images in this book attest. Brewster’s portraits have sold astonishingly well at auction, and his work is featured in the collections of prestigious museums, yet curiously little has been written about the life of this Deaf artist. Traveling the New England coast to paint the portraits of the merchant class that arose after the Revolution, he lived precisely when a Deaf-World—with its own language, social institutions, and culture—was forming. Harlan Lane, award-winning historian of the Deaf, argues that Deaf people are often visually gifted, and that Brewster, as a Deaf artist, is part of a long and continuing distinguished tradition. Lane’s unprecedented biography both vividly and comprehensively explores Brewster’s worlds: he was a seventh-generation descendant of William Brewster, who led the Pilgrims on the Mayflower voyage; he was a member of the Federalist elite; a Deaf man; and, finally, an artist.
Hardcover, 190 pages