ALFRED DE BREANSKI
Alfred de Breanski Snr. (1852-1928) was a British landscape painter, best known for his idyllic depictions of rural Wales and Scotland. Born in Greenwich, London, the eldest son of Leopold Breanski, a Polish émigré. His younger brother and sister, Gustave and Juliet were also painters. After his academic and artistic training, he began exhibiting his paintings in 1869 and made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1872 and continued to exhibit there until 1918.
By the 1870s de Breanski had already embraced landscape as his preferred subject matter. Breanski specialised in painting dramatic Welsh and Scottish landscapes, especially highland lochs at sunset, which often exude a golden rosy light. He also painted views on the Thames and the idyllic landscape of the Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. He travelled to the isolated regions of Wales and Scotland in search of wilderness landscapes, depicted with his unique blend of romanticism and realism. Breanski had a great passion for the Highlands, and perhaps more than any other artist, captured the atmospheric influences of the undulating landscape. Often bathed in a flood of golden light, these landscapes usually feature a loch with cattle or sheep on its grassy banks; sometimes a solitary figure is seen the distance. Breanski was deeply inspired by both John Constable and William Turner but sought his own style of expression. He was fascinated by the texture of rock, earth and foliage and would focus on the minute details of a particular plant or craggy rockface.
Over the course of his career, twenty-four of his paintings were accepted for display by the Royal Academy in London and many more at the other major London and provincial galleries such as the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Royal Cumbrian Academy. Breanski also exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists and the New Watercolour Society. His many patrons included Sir James Lemon and the Bishop of Peterborough, who purchased the first picture that he exhibited at the Royal Academy “Evening: Softly falls the even light”.
In 1873, Breanski married Annie Roberts, a talented Welsh artist who he first met during his frequent trips to Wales. His brother Gustave was also an artist specialising in marine subjects, and two of his seven children, Arthur and Alfred Fontville became artists as well. Breanski had various addresses, living at Cookham in Berkshire from 1880, Greenwich in 1883 and London in 1887. In 1880, he became a Freeman of the City of London.
Examples of this fine artist’s work are to be found in several public collections, for example the Sydney Museum, Southampton Art Gallery and the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.