His father then wanted him to study law, but instead he left England and went to Rome to study music and art, enrolling at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and Accademia di San Luca. His father attempted to make him return by reducing his allowance, but in 1847, upon the death of his elder brother, he gained financial independence when he inherited family estates in Connaught, the will requiring that he change his surname to Brabazon. From then on he led a life of travel, art study and painting, inspired by the works of artists such as Velázquez and Turner.
In 1858 he inherited Oaklands, whose management he left to his brother-in-law while he continued to travel - mostly in Europe, but with trips to Africa and India - always returning with his watercolours. Describing himself as living "for Art and Sunshine", he viewed himself as a gentleman amateur, and did not show or try to sell his work until his mid-seventies.