Brandt studied in Warsaw in the school of J.N. Leszczynski and at the Noblemen`s Institute. In 1858 he left for Paris to study at the Ecole des ponts et chausses but was persuaded by Juliusz Kossak to abandon engineering in favor of painting. Kossak and Henryk Rodakowski were his first teachers in Paris, and for a time he attended the studio of Leon Cogniet. He continued his study in Munich in 1862, chiefly under Franz Adam, Theodor Horschelt, and Karl von Piloty. From 1896, except for summer vacations on the family estate in Radom, he remained in Munich, where his studio became a gathering place for expatriate Polish artists. One of the foremost Polish artists of so-called Munich school, he was a rapid success both financially and artistically, and he attracted many students and imitators. From 1875 he ran as informal school for young painters, mostly Poles. In 1875 Brandt was elected to the Berlin Academy, in 1878 to the Munich Academy, and in 1900 to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.
Brandt`s principal subjects were scenes of the seventeenth-century Cossack`s wars and the Tatar and Swedish invasions of Poland, His were imaginative treatments, and not representations of precisely defined historical moments, though he took great pains to accurately depict costumes, weapons, harnesses, and musical instruments, models for all of which filled his studio. His favorite motif was the plains horse in motion, galloping or attacking, together with the colorful figure of the rider – Cossack, Tatar. Lisowczycy (Polish light cavalry of the period) – the two caught up in the frenzy of combat. Both the military and the bazaar and hunt scenes show an element of eastern exoticism.
Brandt attracted attention early for bravura compositions that frequently broke with academic conversations. At the 1869 Universal Art Exhibition I Munich he won the Gold Medal, First Class, for Strojanowski Presenting Captured Horses to Prince Lopols. In 1873 he receives the order of Franz Josef for his Relief of Vienna, and in 1891 the Grand Gold Medal at the International Art exhibition in Berlin. In 1893 he was nominated a Commander of the Spanish Order of Isabella the Catholic, and in 1898 he won the Bavarian Order of Maximilian.
Brandt canvases hang in nearly all Polish museums and he is represented also in museums and private collections in America and Europe. The first one-man exhibition was held in 1887 at the Warsaw "Zacheta" Society of Fine Arts, which was also the venue for a posthumous retrospective in 1926. Two large showings of his paintings were organized in the Regional Museum of Radom in 1965 and 1985.