Photograph of Harold Matthews Brett, c. 1909. Students of Howard Pyle File, Helen Farr Sloan Library.
Harold Matthews Brett
Date: American illustrator, 1880–1955
Biography: A native of Brookline, MA, painter and illustrator Harold Brett (1880-1955) was known for historical works, New England subjects, seascapes, and portraits. He studied at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston under Philip Hall and Frank Benson and later at the Art Students League in New York with Walter Appleton Clark, Kenyon Cox and H. Siddons Mowbray.

In 1906, Brett became a student of Howard Pyle (1853-1911) in Wilmington, Delaware. Soon after, his illustrations began to appear in national magazines. He maintained a studio in Wilmington for nine years and then in 1915 moved to Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Subsequently, he was associated with the Fenway School of Illustration in Boston. He also kept a studio in New York.

Leading magazines continued to hire Brett for fiction illustration, as did book publishers. True to his fondness for the New England sea shore, he illustrated several books by Joseph C. Lincoln, whose stories were set in a fictionalized Cape Cod.

Brett was especially well known for two of his calendar images. In 1924, the Pennsylvania Railroad commissioned him for their annual advertising calendar. His painting - showing the Broadway Limited, the luxury New York to Chicago train crossing the Susquehanna River on the Rockville Bridge north of Harrisburg - appeared in 1925 and was so popular that it was re-used in 1926. When the Railroad again commissioned him for the 1927 calendar, he depicted the Broadway Limited passing through Pittsburgh, a recognition of the nation's steel industry (and home of the railroad's steel suppliers).

Brett was married to Edith Elwell of Boston.

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