Edward Augustus Brackett
Sculptor. Known for portraits, mostly busts, he also produced imaginative subjects. Only one of these survives. Acclaimed in its day, this melodramatic marble Shipwrecked Mother and Child (Worcester [Massachusetts] Art Museum, 1848–51) represents a drowned nude woman clasping her unfortunate baby. Brackett's best-known portrait, a posthumous bust of Washington Allston (Metropolitan Museum, 1844), sympathetically softens a naturalistic interpretation of the aging painter. Self-taught as an artist, Brackett was born in Vassalborough (now Vassalboro), Maine, near Augusta. He moved as a young man to Cincinnati, where he began to work as a sculptor. Following a stint of about two years in New York, early in the 1840s he moved his studio to the Boston area. From 1843 until his death he made his home in Winchester. After serving for a year in the Civil War, he found few commissions but turned his attention to wildlife conservation and agricultural experimentation. In 1869 he was appointed to a state commission supervising inland fisheries. When he became its head in 1873 he ceased working as an artist. From 1894 until his death he accepted expanded responsibilities as head of the Massachusetts Fish and Game Commission. Brackett published several books, including the poetry collections Twilight Hours or Leisure Moments of an Artist (1845) and My House, Chips the Builder Threw Away (1904), as well as ruminations on spiritualism. His brother, self-taught painter Walter M. Brackett (1823–1919), was known particularly for portraits and for images of game fish. Born also in central Maine, in Unity, he worked for most of his career in Boston, where he died.
Subjects: Art & Architecture