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C W Brown (1882 - 1962)

Born 5th March 1882 at Robin Hill on Biddulph Moor.

Charles William Brown aka C W Brown was a farm labourer, and a miner from the age of 12, raising to a pit manager. On retirement in 1948 aged 66 he took writing and prioritised painting and self taught became a “primitive” painter.

After his marriage in 1901 they eventually moved in 1910 into a terraced house at 14 Lord Street, Etruria which later became 276 Etruria Road. After demolition due to slum clearances in 1956 they then moved to 12 Cavour Street, Etruria.

 After his death in 1962 aged 80, “tea chests full” of his paintings were bequeathed to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, where they were “discovered” by Arthur Berry, prompted by a sight of a Brown watercolour, whose intensity he much admired, in a local shop window. Berry describes in his autobiography A Three and Sevenpence Half Penny Man:

“I was astounded by the range of his subject matter. Everything was grist to his mill. He was never short of anything to paint. The match box on the table by his paint box would do for a subject, the paint box itself, even his fingers holding the paint brush. Every ornament in his little street house had been painted with great intensity of observation. Looking through the tea chest was a revelation. I knew that I was looking at the work of an unknown artist of very considerable power, in fact, a great naïve painter. As usual, when I came away from seeing work that had deeply impressed me, I was depressed … The way he drew the simplest domestic object revealed the essence of it. All his shortcomings as an academic painter made his work stronger. What he didn’t know had added to the power of his paintings.”

Charles William Brown died on 18th May, 1961