Charles DeWolf Brownell was born in Providence, RI on February 2, 1822.
The Brownell family moved to East Hartford, CT, when Charles was two years old. He studied and practiced law in Hartford from 1850 to 1853, when, at age 31, he turned his attention to the arts, never returning to law. He studied under Joseph Ropes and Julius Theodore Busch and did many paintings of Cuba, where he spent seven winters. He lived in Europe from 1866 to 1872. For many years he kept a strange diary in English words written in the Greek alphabet.
Brownell died in Bristol, RI on June 6, 1909. Brownell is buried in Juniper Hill Cemetery, Bristol, RI.
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