(Bletchingley, Surrey, 8 December 1831 - 8 January 1902, Putney, London Borough of Wandsworth)
Brett painted in a scientific rather than an artistic spirit, caring more for detailed veracity of record than for the creation of beauty. In other ways he showed that his heart was more with science than with art. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society on 9 June 1871, and devoted a considerable part of the strange house which he built in Keswick Road, Putney, to the purposes of astronomical observation. On the roof were mounted an equatorial telescope, resting on a solid brick pier going down to the foundation level of the house, and an azimuth reflector. In an introductory essay to the catalogue of a collection of his sketches, shown by the Fine Art Society in 1886, he devoted most of his space to scientific polemics. His Putney house was designed entirely on utilitarian principles. The floors and flat roofs were of asphalte, the ceilings brick vaults, the heating done by hot water pipes, everything to minimise human labour and avoid dirt. The house was electrically protected against burglars and other uninvited intruders.
Brett was elected A.R.A. in 1881, but never attained the rank of R.A. He died in his house at Putney in 1902. He married in 1870, and had four sons and three daughters who survived him. A portrait in oils by himself, painted about 1865, belongs to his son, Mr. Michael Brett. A bust in bronze, executed in 1888, by Thomas Stirling Lee, is in the possession of the Art Workers' Guild, London, of which Brett was at one time master.
[The Times, 9 Jan. 1902; Catalogue of National Gallery of British Art (Tate Gallery); Bryan's Dictionary; Percy Bato's English Pre-Raphaelito Painters, 1899; Art Journal for 1882; Royal Astronomical Society Notices, 1902; Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Sidney Lee, ed., Volume: 2, Pt.1, Supplement, 1912.]