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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John Brown

Dates:  1838 - 1874
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for John Brown
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

The son of a landscape painter in Kilmarnock, Scotland, Brown was a precentor, the human voice that led the congregation in song in the era before church organs became common. By the time of the 1871 census Brown identified himself as a “student of photography.” This was a peculiar declaration for an experienced artist, for a decade before, in 1861, he had first advertised as a “photographer and calotypist” in Kilmarnock, a rapidly industrializing Ayrshire town. The following year he expanded into a “commodious portrait gallery,” and a local newspaper announced in 1865 that Brown had opened “a first class establishment (wooden) in Bank Street, Kilmarnock.” (In nineteenth-century Scotland, wooden buildings were often allowed by the authorities for temporary businesses and exhibitions where a permanent stone structure would not be permitted.) By 1872 Brown was advertising the novelty of “enlarged photographs (untouched) by the new photo-crayon process”; two years later, he succumbed to typhus. Although his death certificate described him as a city missionary, that might not have been Brown’s real passion, for when his wife died twenty years later she was listed as the widow of a photographer. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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