Ralph Brown was born in Leeds, and is the younger contemporary of the eminent group of Yorkshire sculptors that include Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Kenneth Armitage. Between 1948 and 1951 he studied at Leeds College of Art, where both Moore and Hepworth attended. He then spent a year at Hammersmith School of Art before entering the Royal College of Art in 1952 where he was taught by Frank Dobson, John Skeaping and Leon Underwood. He won a number of scholarships including a trip to Paris to work in the studio of Ossip Zadkine where he also saw work by Auguste Rodin and Germain Richier and met Giacometti. In 1957 he won the Boise Scholarship to Italy and studied Etruscan Sculpture. Brown also worked in Cannes making mosaics for Pablo Picasso where he was inspired by the work of Marino Marini and Giacomo Manzu.
Style and Technique
Like Henry Moore who befriended him and encouraged him by buying his work, Brown's art is deeply rooted in the figurative tradition. However, whilst his predecessors focused their energies on carving and maintaining 'truth to materials', Brown concentrated on modelling allowing him to interact with his material on a more intimate level. In the introductory catalogue essay for Brown's major retrospective show at Leeds City Art Gallery in 1988 Dennis Farr commented: "So much of Brown's sculpture is his search for equivalents, in formal terms, for sensual experiences."