Lithographer, educator, and author Bolton Coit Brown (1864-1936) lived and worked in Woodstock and New York City, New York, and Stanford, California. He is known for his extensive writings on lithography technique, and for his interest in tonalism effects in painting and printmaking.
Brown was born in Dresden, New York to Edmund Woodward Brown, a minster of the Presbyterian church, and his wife Martha Coit Brown. His early aptitude in art was supported by his family and he received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in painting from Syracuse University. Upon graduation, Brown taught art at Cornell University, became principal of the Toronto Government Art School, and was invited to head the newly formed art department at Stanford University from 1891 to 1902. During his tenure at Stanford, his proximity to the Sierra Nevada ranges inspired him to climb the mountains and he published several articles, line drawings, and maps that document his explorations in the Sierra Club Bulletin.
In 1901, Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, an aristocrat and progressive idealist, approached Brown with the idea of developing an arts and crafts colony based on the utopian ideals of John Ruskin. Brown agreed to the project and worked with Whitehead and Hervey White to establish Byrdcliffe Colony near the village of Woodstock, New York. After a break from Whitehead over management of the Colony, Brown focused his energies on landscape paintings and worked out of studios located in Woodstock and New York City.
Many of his paintings experimented with tonalism, and interest in this style led him to the explore the gradational effects and mechanics of lithography. In 1915, he traveled to England and spent a year studying with the lithographer F. Ernest Jackson. When he returned home, he continued to document his experiments and technical findings in detailed journals. Many of these discoveries were published in several books and essays on the topic, including Lithography Since Whistler. He printed over 400 of his own lithographs and printed the artworks of George Bellows, John Sloan, and Rockwell Kent, among others. Brown died in Woodstock , New York in 1936.