Ventura County Maritime Museum

photo © 1999 John Hazeltine

Oxnard, CA



James Britton: Sag Harbor in the 1920's


On August 20, 2001 the Ventura County Maritime Museum will open "James Britton: Sag Harbor in the 1920's", an exhibit of the artist's landscapes accompanied by images of historic Sag Harbor. An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, August 24 at 7:00 pm. The show runs through September 28, 2001. (left: self-portrait, The Red Hat, n.d., oil on canvas)

Sag Harbor, once a booming Long Island whaling port, was home to James Britton and his family in the 1920's. By then the town had become a sleepy little backwater, better known for rum running than much else, having been overshadowed by the glitzier Hamptons. But it was a refuge for Britton, away from the crowded, hot, highly competitive city of New York. The town and its characters provided him with numerous colorful subjects to paint. His landscapes included "The Rum Runner's Cottage" and "The Bootleg Storehouse".

Britton worked and exhibited with artists who became known as American Impressionists and the Ash Can School, and he worked tirelessly to gain recognition of the "American idea," particularly among those in this country who continued to support European artists. (right: The Studio, n.d. (early 1920s), oil on canvas)

With seven exhibitions of this long-dead artist's work since 1997, Britton's granddaughters, Ursula of Ventura and Barbara of New York, have managed to revive interest in an artist who was well known in his day but had slipped into obscurity. Fortunately a meticulously kept 30-year diary and a number of his portraits, landscapes, woodcuts and drawings remain in the family, allowing his grandaughters to share his legacy with us.


Read more about the Ventura County Maritime Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/2/11

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