The Brehm Collection
Housed at Hamilton East Public Library
The Hamilton East Public Library has acquired an interesting collection of artwork over the last eighty years. Beginning with its first Brehm works donated in the 1930s, the Hamilton East Public Library now has a number of works by the Brehm brothers as well as Floyd Hopper. Several of the Brehm works can be seen hanging in the Indiana Room today.
Brothers George Brehm (1878-1966) and Worth Brehm (1883-1928) grew up in Noblesville, Indiana. Living for a time at 1384 Maple Avenue, they ultimately left Indiana to establish careers as nationally famous artists. The Brehms created iconic images for national magazine covers and classic novels by drawing upon their memories of their Noblesville childhood.
After graduating from Noblesville High School in 1898, George took lessons from William Forsyth, attended Indiana University, and worked as an illustrator for the Indianapolis Star before moving to New York in 1905. He became a regular contributor to several magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post, American Magazine, Colliers, and Ladies Home Journal. He did illustrations for authors like James Whitcomb Riley, Booth Tarkington, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and William Faulkner. His friends and colleagues were people like Frederic Remington, Thomas Hart Benton, and Norman Rockwell. He continued doing illustrations until the 1950s and died in 1966. George was the first illustrator of the Hamilton County School to be nationally successful and could be considered the New York “anchor” for the group.
Worth Brehm graduated from Noblesville High School in 1902, attended Herron Art Institute, and eventually followed his brother to New York. There, he became known for his illustrations of children. His first success was a series of drawings published in Outing Magazine in 1907-1909. The series was based on his memories of growing up in Noblesville and was titled When I Was a Boy. His first Saturday Evening Post cover was in June of 1908. He followed this up with the illustrations for a 1910 edition of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, a 1912 edition of Huckleberry Finn, and original illustrations for Booth Tarkington’s Penrod stories. At the urging of his friend Johnny Gruelle, (the creator of Raggedy Ann), Worth joined the Silvermine art colony in Connecticut in 1912. He took a trip to Europe in 1914 to do more study, but returned just as World War I broke out in August. He was widely recognized for his work before his untimely death at age 45 in 1928 from blood poisoning due to an abscess.
You can listen below to a story about some of George Brehm's earliest drawings.