BRAZ, OSIP (Joseph ; 1873–1936), painter. Braz was born in Odessa, Ukraine. He studied at the Odessa Art School and on completing the course was awarded a Grand Bronze Medal. He later continued his art education in Munich, where in 1891–93 he attended Sh. Halloshi's private art school and took drawing classes at the Academy of Art. In 1894, he lived in Holland studying old masters. In 1895–96, Braz studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. In the same period, P. Tretyakov, a prominent patron of art and collector of Russian painting, commissioned Braz to execute a portrait of A. Chekov. The painting, which brought the artist fame, became the best-known portrait of the writer. From 1900, Braz was a regular participant of "World of Art" exhibits. He established a private art school in St. Petersburg that remained open until 1905. In 1907–11, he resided mainly in France, where together with portraits, his favorite genre, he created landscapes and still lifes. Under the influence of contemporary French art, Braz' manner underwent changes, his compositions becoming simpler, colors more intensive, and decorative features more pronounced. At the same time, he continued to execute portraits, and by World War i had created a gallery of portraits of prominent figures in Russian culture and art. After 1917, Braz participated in major exhibits of Russian artists both in Russia and West Europe. In 1918–24, he served as the curator and manager of the Department of Dutch Art at the Hermitage, being also active in the restoration of paintings. In 1924, Braz was accused of engaging in illegal art trade, arrested, and imprisoned in the correctional forced-labor camp on the Solovets Islands. He was released in 1926 and sent into exile in Novgorod. Soon afterwards, Braz was allowed to return to Leningrad and to resume his work at the Hermitage. In 1928, he left for Germany and in the same year settled in France. He lived in Paris and engaged in the antiques trade while continuing to paint. He participated in collective exhibits of emigrant artists. He had a one-man show at a Paris gallery in 1930.
O.L. Leykind, K.V. Makhrov, and, D.J. Severiukhin, Artists of the Russian Diaspora 1917–1939: Biographical Dictionary (1991), 169–70 (Rus.).
[Hillel Kazovsky (2nd ed.)]
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