John Brett was an English painter of landscape and coastal scenes. His father was an army veterinary surgeon. He married Mary Ann Howcroft and together they had seven children.
The minute detailing of nature evinced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the writings on art and nature by John Ruskin were of great significance for the development of Brett's art. Inspired by Ruskin's Modern Painters, he travelled to Switzerland in 1856 where he met John W. Inchbold. Ruskin praised Brett's The Stonebreaker (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) when it was shown at the R.A. in 1858. However, in the 1860s, with Ruskin's enthusiasm waning, Brett turned to painting seascapes, e.g. British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs (1871; Tate, London).
In a letter of 1881 JW mentioned that there was to be an exhibition of the seapieces of Brett and James Clark Hook at the Fine Art Society and that he felt his own work would complement the exhibition well. In March 1892 David Croal Thomson mentioned that Brett had been to see an exhibition of JW's work being held at the Goupil Gallery in London.
Cordingly, David, John Brett 1831-1902, dissertation, University of Sussex, Brighton, 1983; Cordingly, David, 'John Brett', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 28 March 2002).