Son of artist, John D. Braught, Ross was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and graduated from Carlisle High School. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where colleague, Thomas Hart Benton, called Ross “the greatest living American draftsman”.
John Braught was born in North Middleton Township in 1867. His father died of a farm accident when he was two years old. He spent his early years working on the family farm consisting of a “brick house and a log barn.” In his late teens or early twenties he started working as an artist. It is believed that he had formal art training at an art school in Baltimore. His art career was short lived, because in the 1890s he was working as a shoemaker in the Lindner Shoe Factory in Carlisle. He married Alice Salina Reiber and lived at 441 North College Street before moving later to 515 North College Street. They had three sons, R. Lisle (b.1895), Ross E. (b.1898), Harold J. (b.1909) and a daughter Edith (b.1903). Ross pursued an artistic career with more success. John continued to work at the shoe factory, becoming a foreman as well as a house painter (listed in county directories and tax assessments in 1919). He continued working as a house painter and pursued his art part-time.1
Braught’s early paintings were highly detailed and realistic, but later ones became more impressionistic (landscape painting). He also painted murals at local institutions including a pair of triptych murals at the Sunday school room in the First United Church of Christ where he taught Sunday school. He also painted the murals at the Odd Fellows Lodge (now owned by the Cumberland County Historical Society on West High Street), where he was a member and at the St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ on Spring Road.2
The following paintings are in the collection of the Cumberland County Historical Society:
- 1977.029.001 ‘Souvenir Memories’, oil on canvas, this is a PETO-like trompe œil with a letter and a dollar bill. John Braught’s signature appears on the dollar bill.3
- 2005.043.001 Oil on canvas, this landscape painting depicts a river with evergreen trees in foreground, 32” by 43”. Signed “Jno D Braught 1899”. This scene of North Middleton Township painted in 1929 for son as a wedding present.4
- 2009.027.001 Framed oil on canvas landscape, 20” by 24”, signed ‘J D Braught 1919’. Painting features three brown cows, a creek, and a building with a red roof. The seller said his grandmother told him the scene was of Opossum Lake.5