“Thunderstorm on Shuswap Lake” was painted by Grafton Tyler Brown on Sept. 28, 1882. (Contributed)

Century-old painting of Shuswap Lake boasts $34,000 price tag

Artist Grafton Tyler Brown considered first professional African American painter in B.C.

A 138-year-old painting of Shuswap Lake is selling in a Vancouver art gallery for more than $30,000.

Thunderstorm on Shuswap Lake was painted by Grafton Tyler Brown on Sept. 28, 1882. Brown, who relocated to Canada from the U.S., was hired to take part in a geological survey of the then nine-year-old province to map out the Shuswap and sketch the region’s landscapes.

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Although considered “white” in B.C., a U.S. census recorded him as an African American, and he is now considered to be the first professional black artist in B.C.

The painting itself depicts the characteristic rolling mountains of the Shuswap with the sun attempting to burn its way through the dark storm clouds above.

Local historian Paul Lefebvre helped determine the painting’s origins. Lefebvre pinned down the location where the painting was originally sketched near what is now the The Maples Waterfront Resort in Sorrento.

In the foreground of the painting sits a distinctly angular boulder. The same stone can still be seen today a little over 12 metres up the beach.

Brown completed a series of 22 paintings in 1883 based on sketches from his surveying trip, which were then exhibited in June of that year, just a few blocks from where Emily Carr lived in Victoria, B.C.

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Now on display at the Uno Langmann art dealership in Vancouver, the painting will set you back $34,000.

In 1884, Brown moved back to the U.S. and opened his own studio before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he worked primarily as a draftsman and civil engineer. Brown passed away in St. Peter on March 2, 1918.

Brown’s other works are held in the collections of the Oakland Museum of California, Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


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“Thunderstorm on Shuswap Lake” was painted by Grafton Tyler Brown on Sept. 28, 1882. (Contributed)

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