James Britton (1878-1936) was a portrait painter and writer active in Connecticut and New York. Britton wrote extensively about American art and artists and was the editor of his own publications Art Review International and Opus. Also, he was a member of the group of New York painters and sculptors known as The Eclectics.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1878, James Britton began his career as an apprentice working under August Jaccaci at Scribner's Magazine in 1895. He studied under George de Forest Brush at the Art Students' League and under Walter Griffin and Charles Noel Flagg in Hartford. He exhibited and worked with many of the American artists associated with the Ash Can school and The Eclectics, a group of New York artists that included Theresa Bernstein, Guy Pene du Bois, Walter Griffin, Philip L. Hale, Eugene Higgins, George Luks, Jane Peterson, Maurice Prendergast, and Mahonri Young. Mainly, Britton worked as a portrait painter but produced many landscapes of Sag Harbor, Long Island, and of his homes in Connecticut. He was a founding member of the New Society of American Artists and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. He exhibited at numerous New York City galleries including Ainslie Galleries, Arlington Galleries, Babcock Galleries, Dudensing Galleries, Folsom Galleries, and at the studio of sculptor Marie Apel.
A prolific writer on American art and artists, as well as an illustrator, Britton worked as staff artist for the Hartford Times and as an art critic for American Art News and the Hartford Courant. He also founded and edited Art Review International and Opus. Two of his published books include Copley, Painter of the Revolution and Artists of America. Britton was also interested in classical music and wrote on composers Haydn and Beethoven. Britton's extensive diaries found within his papers chronicle his daily life and commentary.
In 1914, Britton married Caroline Korner and settled mostly in Connecticut. They had three children, Jerome, Teresa, and Ruth. In 1928, a car struck Britton and left him disabled. Although he continued to paint, he suffered from ill-health as a result of the accident. He died in 1936.
James Britton's works are represented at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Mark Twain Memorial, Manchester Public Library and at St. Joseph's College.