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.
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”.1
Ross worked at the Woodstock Art Colony, Cornell University, and the Kansas City Art Institute from 1931 – 1936 and 1946 – 1962. Braught was not only a teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute, but he also Chairman of the Painting Department and Acting Dean of the school. Between his two tenures at the Kansas City Art Institute, Braught, lived in the British Virgin Islands and Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) from 1936 to 1946, painting exotic images of the tropics.
The Kansas Institute of Art gave Ross a retrospective exhibition showing 40 of his works. He said, ‘When you look back on paintings, you realize the things that live are the things that have emotional quality. Style, technique, they are superficial. The feeling that survives is what is worth while.’ He left Kansas City in 1962 for Philadelphia and lived there until his death on October 12, 1983.2
One of Ross’s best known works is a mural, ‘Mnemosyne and the Four Muses’ at the entrance to the Music Hall in the Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City.
His paintings and drawings are in the collections of the Nelson Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City and the Kansas City Art Institute.3
The following paintings are in the Collection of the Cumberland County Historical Society:
- 2007.053.001 ‘Manayunk’, a colorful cityscape, oil on canvas. Painted in the impressionistic style, signed in verso, in black, Braught. Carved in back of wooden frame, ‘Ross Braught “Manayunk” 1930’s’. Signed inn verso.”
- 2008.061.001 “Mystic”, a landscape painting of a country scene, curving road in center, green fields, trees and a few buildings. Oil on canvas, signed “Ross Braught” and penciled in script upon the verso of wooden stretcher “Ross Braught Mystic.4