John Edward Brett was a follower of the Pre-Raphaelite School. His work before 1870 showed its influence. In 1858, he visited the region of Val d'Aosta and settled at the castle of St Peter in Villeneuve. Here he received a visit from Ruskin, of whom he was a great admirer. During his stay in the Val d'Aosta, he painted a great number of landscapes, notably of the Dora Baltac Valley.
Searching later for a different expression, he dedicated himself to the picturesque form of beauty and studied the south coast of England and northern France. Here he drew the themes for his most beautiful maritime landscapes.
He often exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, of which he was an associate.
2000, A Dream of the Past: Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic Movement Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings from the Lanigan Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Birmingham (Mus. and AG): A North-West Gale off the Longships Lighthouse (oil on canvas); Caernavon (oil on canvas); watercolours
Cambridge (Fitzwilliam Mus.): Landscape (1852, oil on millboard); Rocky Coast Scene (1872, oil on millboard)
Cape Town: Trevose Head (Cornwall)
Cardiff (Nat. Gallery of Wales): Caernarvon (1875, oil on canvas); The Stronghold of the Seison and the Camp of Kittywake (1879, oil on canvas); Forest Cove, Cardigan Bay (1883, oil on canvas)
Liverpool: View of Trier
Liverpool (Walker AG): The Stonebreaker (c. 1857-1858, oil on canvas)
London (Tate Collection): Glacier of Rosenlaui (1856, oil on canvas); Florence from Bellosguardo (1863, oil on canvas); Lady with a Dove: Madame Loeser (1864, oil on canvas, full-length portrait); The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs (1871, oil on canvas); Britannia's Realm (1880, oil on canvas); two other landscapes
Manchester (City AG): Seascape (1881, oil on canvas); The Norman Archipelago (in the Channel Islands) (1885, oil on canvas)
New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Kynance (1888)
Oxford (Ashmolean Mus.): Kennack Sands, Cornwall, at Low Tide (1877, oil on board); Mrs Coventry Patmore (oil on card)
Sunderland: Procession of Small Craft Heading for Bristol in Foggy Weather
Sydney: Lion, Lizard and Stags