Home > Deaf History > John Brewster Jr. : A Deaf Artist In Early America

John Brewster Jr. : A Deaf Artist In Early America

November 19, 2007

One Shoe Off, 1807
John Brewster, Jr.

John Brewster Jr. (b. May 31, 1766 d. August 13, 1854) worked successfully as an itinerant portrait painter, especially of children, along the New England coast. He born deaf, he was one of eight children of Dr. John Brewster and Mary Durkee Brewster of Hampton, Connecticut. He was apparently taught at an early age to communicate through signs and symbols. He received instruction in painting from the Reverend Joseph Steward and in the 1790s, Brewster traveled through the American Northeast in search of portrait commissions, and worked successfully as an itinerant portrait painter. Advertisements placed by him in contemporary newspapers set his fees at fifteen dollars for standard portraits and five dollars for miniatures. His style of romanticized folk portraiture became a dominant style in rural New England. Brewster lived at a time when Deaf people were developing their own language, social institutions, and culture. He was one of the first students to attend the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut when it opened in 1817; he was 51 years old. The artist’s contributions to American culture are persuasively outlined in a companion book of the same title. Written by Dr. Harlan Lane of Northeastern University, the book provides the first major look at Brewster’s life and art as well as a glimpse into New England history and the distinctive culture of the Deaf in America. Copies of the book are available through internet, [Amazon.com]. Brewster died in Buxton, Maine at age eighty-eight leaving behind a legacy of more than 200 extant paintings. [Read more about John Brewster Jr.]

Categories: Deaf History
  1. November 19, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Wow, I never knew about that! It’s a very interesting history and I’m so glad to read this one!

  2. B
    November 19, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Cool Deaf History

  3. Anonymous
    September 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    wow this is very cool history about john Brewster JR a deaf artist

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