S M Brookes was noted for his portraits, landscapes, and especially still life paintings of fish & fruit. This is a beautiful pair of Fruit Still Lifes: Peaches and apples. Frame measures 24 x 18, canvas 20 x 13 1/2.
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Born on March 8, 1816 in Newington Green, Middlesex, England. After immigrating with his family to the U.S. in 1833, Brookes settled near Chicago which was then only a small frontier town. There he received his first and only art instruction from two migrant artists in 1841. The years 1845 and 1846 were spent in England copying pictures at the Nat’l Gallery and Hampton Court Palace. He then worked in Chicago and Milwaukee where he was active with the American Art Union. He moved to San Francisco in 1862 and spent the last 30 years of his life there. Brookes was a founder of both the Bohemian Club and the San Francisco Art Ass’n, and served as first vice-president of the latter. While maintaining a home in the Mission District at 34 Prospect Street, he gave art lessons at his studio at 611 Clay Street which he shared with his close friend Edwin Deakin. Brookes enjoyed great financial success during his lifetime with his paintings commanding as much as $10,000 each from such patrons as E. B. Crocker and Mrs. Mark Hopkins. His early work in the Midwest was mostly portraits; however, in California he gained national renown for his still lifes of fish, flowers, fruit, and birds. Considered to be the finest American still life specialist of the 19th century, his paintings are infinitely detailed and meticulously realistic. Brookes died in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 1892. Exh: Mechanics’ Inst. (SF), 1869, 1871 (gold medal); Centennial Expo (Philadelphia), 1876; Calif. State Fair, 1879-90; Calif. Midwinter Int’l Expo, 1894. In: De Young Museum; CHS; Brooklyn Museum; Wisconsin Historical Society; Crocker Museum (Sacramento); Oakland Museum; Nevada Museum (Reno).