St. Brice, Robert

About the Artist

Robert St. Brice – St. Brice was born in Petionville, Haiti in the 1890’s and was raised by a prominent Episcopalian, Maitre Turnbull, but eventually became a voodoo priest. He did not begin to paint until he was over 50 years old when an American painter, Alex Johnes, or John, introduced him to the work of the French Impressionists. St. Brice joined the Centre d’Art in 1949. He was illiterate for his entire life and the dealer Issa el Saieh talked of spending hours teaching St. Brice how to sign his name on his paintings. Jean-Marie Drot, the Haitian art historian, places St. Brice second only to the legendary Hyppolite in the pantheon of Haitian artists who received their inspiration directly from the vodou spirits. St. Brice received his while dreaming. He was an original. Drot decribes him as a stylish man who wore red scarves, a favored accessory of the houngan, had a beautiful smile and voice and was friendly and sociable. His work is prized. He died in 1973.

The 2 paintings below belonged to Jason Seley, the American sculptor who taught at the Centre d’Art in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. They were either given to him by St. Brice or traded for something by Seley. For many years they have been part of the collection of the Herbert Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, where Mr. Seley also taught. The larger one has been exhibited at The American Federation of Arts in NYC, the NY Cultural Center and Le Musee D-Art Haitien in Port-Au-Prince. They were decommissioned by the museum in 2004.

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