James Sidney Brown
James Sidney Brown was born in 1819 in New York City. As a young man he was apprenticed to a silversmith. In 1841 he became a student of the National Academy of Design. After graduating, he set up a portrait studio in New York City. He was skilled at painting in watercolors and was one of the founders of the American Society of Watercolor Artists.
When the art of daguerreotype making was introduced it interfered seriously with portrait painting, and Brown accepted an engagement from Mathew Brady. Mr. Brown’s knowledge of chemistry and art enabled him to turn out exceptionally fine daguerreotypes. He excelled in the art of posing his subject. He entered his work in the London Exposition of 1851 and won the gold medal.
Brown returned to painting portraits and landscapes after winning this medal and founded the Ruskin Life Class of the National Academy, where the students worked exclusively with a brush instead of pencil. He went to St. Louis later, still as a photographer and portrait painter, and his letters show that he made the acquaintance of General Beauregard and other distinguished Southerners, and painted portraits and took daguerreotypes of them. The outbreak of the war compelled him to sell his photographic business and, with the money he received, he went to Paris and studied with Thomas Couture, the French painter. He would later return to New York City where he continued to work as an artist.