Carlyle Brown

Carlyle Brown

Carlyle Brown [1920-1963]

Graduating from Glendale High School, Carlyle Brown attended the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco from 1939 to 1940. From 1942 to 1945 Brown served in the U.S. Navy. During his Navy service Brown wrote a fan letter to the Russian painter, Pavel Tchelitchew, who had immigrated to New York City just before the outbreak of World War II. Brown's letter initiated a very intense relationship, with numerous letters exchanged during the four years of service. Tchelitchew urged Brown to draw as much as possible and to experiment with different methods of artistic creation. Their correspondence confirmed the mentoring influence that Brown already felt from Tchelitchew's art.
Just before being released from the Navy, Brown was sent to Indiana University in Bloomington where whilst attending a campus theatre production he met his future wife, drama student Margery Hulett, newly crowned Arbutus Queen. At the beginning of 1946, encouraged by Tchelitchew, Brown moved to New York City, residing first at the Hotel Seville and later on in a studio near Gramercy Park. He immediately immersed himself in the New York scene, meeting numerous artists and personalities in the circle around Tchelitchew: poets Charles Henri Ford and W.H. Auden; painters Eugene Berman, Corrado Cagli and Morris Graves; and from the music and dance scene Leonard Bernstein, Lincoln Kirstein and Gian Carlo Menotti. Kirk Askew, director of Durlacher Brothers Gallery (Tchelitchew's representative) gave Brown his first one-man show in October of 1947. Like Berman and Tchelitchew, Brown enjoyed the world of fashion and he received commissions from Harper's Bazaar in 1947 and socialized with fashion people. His paintings were avidly collected by photographers Cecil Beaton and Clifford Coffin, fashion designers Antonio Canovas del Castillo and Charles James, jewellery designer Fulco di Verdura and designer Van Day Truex.
At this time he was reunited with Margery Hulett, who was in New York modeling for Vogue (she is memorably seen in the famous 1948 photograph by Beaton of eight models wearing Charles James dresses, adjusting her hair at the mirror in the center of the photograph). They became engaged and got married on June 12th of the same year. James was present at Caryle’s marriage and invited them to stay at West Dean. The couple arrived from New York in February 1948 and stayed until September, also making two visits to Paris. Although James was not at West Dean at the time it seems that Brown and James fell out over a number of things including the Brown’s apparent lack of gratitude for the invite and Margery’s objection to James’ criticism of her husband’s work. Things were patched up by the time the Browns moved permenantly to Italy, starting their life their at the town of Costafabbri, on James’ recommendation. Edward James was to be a life long patron of Carlyle Brown. Carlyle Brown died at the age of 44 on December 21, 1963 in Rome, Italy. His death was caused by an overdose of pills and alcohol, although whether he intended to take his own life is not clear.