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Maurice Braun
(1877-1941)


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"Mountain Pass"
c. 1920-1925
Oil on Canvas
25 x 30 inches


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Maurice Braun was born in Nagy Bittse, Hungary on October 1, 1877. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1881 and settled in New York City. He began drawing at age three and would often borrow butcher pencils to sketch his friends� portraits. During his time in New York City, he also spent a lot of time copying a lot of works by master artists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At 14, Braun was apprenticed to a jeweler, but he preferred to broaden his horizons in the art field. Although his family objected to his career as an artist, from 1897-1900, he studied portraiture and still life painting at the National Academy of Design under artists Francis C. Jones, George W. Maynard, and Edgar H. Ward. He also spent a year studying with American artist William Merritt Chase.

In 1902-1903, Braun went abroad to Berlin, Vienna, and Hungary to travel and study the old master painters. He then came back to New York and established himself as a portrait and figure artist by 1909. To escape the constraints of portraiture painting, Braun moved out west to San Diego, California in 1910 and began painting local landscapes. As early as 1911, Braun�s landscapes had received critical acclaim. He began exhibiting annually at the National Academy of Design, New York, and Carnegie Institute from 1911-1915. After opening a studio on Point Loma, he founded the San Diego Academy of Art in 1912 and served as its director for many years. In 1915 he was a cofounder of the San Diego Art Guild.

During the early 1920s, Braun divided his time between the East and West coast. During 1922-24, Braun maintained a studio in a small artist community in Silvermine, Connecticut. By 1924, he moved back to San Diego and in 1929, co-founded the Contemporary Artists in San Diego. Although the Depression hit America, Braun continued to paint and support himself with his artworks. His Impressionist paintings of the Southwest desert, Southern California hills, and High Sierras brought him great national acclaim and in the 1920s and 1930s, his works were reproduced in publications like California Southland, Literary Digest, National Motorist, and Touring Topics. At the end of his career, he specialized in still lifes of flowers and oriental objets d�art. His works incorporate the teachings of Theosophy, emphasizing the unity between man and nature. Braun died in San Diego on Nov. 7, 1941.

Exhibited: Carnegie Institute, New York, 1911-1915; National Academy of Design, New York, 1900, 1911-1915; Daniell Gallery, Los Angeles, 1911; Kanst Gallery, Los Angeles, 1914-19; Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915-16; Babcock Gallery, New York, 1918; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1918, 1920; San Diego Fine Art Gallery, California, 1928; Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939; de Young Museum, San Francisco, 1954.

Works held: Bloomington Art Association, Illinois; Houston Art Museum, Texas; Irvine Museum, California; Laguna Beach Museum of Art, California; Los Angeles Commercial Club; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Phoenix Municipal Collection, Arizona; Riverside and San Bernardino Municipal Collections, California; San Diego Museum of Art, California; Theosophy Center, Pasadena, California; Women�s Athletic Club, Los Angeles.

Sources:
Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
Westphal, Ruth. Plein Air Painters of California: The Southland. Print.