American, (1831-1913)
Read All About It
oil on canvas
signed lower left "copyright / J.G.Brown, N.A"

  • Provenance: Estate of Helen Garvan Menard, Ormond Beach, Florida; Shannon's, Greenwich, Connecticut, October 26, 2006, lot 7; Private Collection, New York.
    John George Brown enjoyed a highly successful career during his lifetime as the richest and most celebrated genre painter in turn-of-the-century America. Brown is best known for his depictions of children, particularly street urchins, shoe-shine boys, flower sellers and newspaper boys. He romanticized poverty and depicted the children playing, laughing or in a comedic narrative.

    J.G. Brown was born into a poor family in Durham, England. His father, a lawyer, insisted that Brown learn a trade despite his early predilection for drawing. Brown apprenticed for seven years with a glass cutter and worked at this trade in Edinburgh, Scotland where he attended the School of the Royal Scottish Academy.

    When he was 22 years old, he went to London and earned money painting portraits. While in London, he heard a music hall performer singing about American life. He decided to move to Brooklyn and took a job as a glass cutter at the Flint Glass Works in Brooklyn. His employer was so impressed with Brown's designs that he helped Brown study with miniature painter Thomas Cummings. Brown later married Cummings' daughter.

    Brown continued to study painting taking night classes at the National Academy of Design. In May of 1856 he rented his own studio in Brooklyn. By 1863, he was elected a member of National Academy of Design and begin teaching classes at the Academy. From this point forward, Brown became known as "the boot-black Raphael." He sold original paintings for $500-700 earning around $40,000 annually and making royalties from lithographs of his paintings that were distributed with packaged tea. A vast sum in the 1860s.

    The present example, "Read All About It" is an iconic work by the artist, featuring a young boy selling newspapers. The cover of the newspaper reads "Daily Eagle" which leads us to believe that the boy was selling newspapers in Brooklyn where Brown lived.

    J.G. Brown was tremendously successful within his lifetime, and his works continue to be collected by several prominent museum and private collectors. His works can be seen in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston among others.
    Framed dimensions: 35 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 4 inches

    tags: oil painting, listed artist, portrait, 19th century
  • Dimensions: 24 x 17 inches
  • Artist Name: JOHN GEORGE BROWN
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Condition: unlined canvas, a 1 1/2 inch area of restoration on the left side of the figures jacket, a few other tiny dots of restoration, in overall very good condition, in a superior quality reproduction frame

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by Shannon's
October 28, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
Milford, CT, US

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