Born: London, England 1883
Modern Taos painter, writer
The Honorable Dorothy Brett was educated privately and took dancing lessons with Queen Victoria’s grandchildren. Beginning in her mid-20’s, she studied four years at the Slade School of Art in London and at University College. An aristocrat, she painted portraits of the English celebrities of the time including the novelist DH Lawrence. When the Lawrences and Lady Brett visited Taos in 1924, she remained, becoming a citizen in 1938. She is remembered as with her “fabulous brass ear-trumpet named Tobey, a long contraption with a round half-open slot at the end.”
Her paintings are consciously “primitive” in style, aiming at “combining the real and spiritual worlds.” Also, “her Indians are subtle, wild and sweet , with the slant-eyed look of fauns.” Her women are “intensely feminine.” She makes it “glamorous and always stylish.” She wrote “Lawrence and Brett” and contributed to The New Yorker magazine. Like other Europeans of her generation, her preoccupation with the American Indian came from seeing the touring Wild West Show of Buffalo Bill: “I fell in love with” one of the Indians who “rode wildly around the arena, naked, painted lemon yellow, wearing a great war bonnet with its feathers cascading down to his horse’s feet.” To paint the Indian ceremonials, she draws from memory, setting down her personal interpretations rather than reporting.
Resource: SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing