JOHN GEORGE BROWN (1831-1913)
JOHN GEORGE BROWN (1831-1913)
JOHN GEORGE BROWN (1831-1913)
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JOHN GEORGE BROWN (1831-1913)
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PROPERTY FROM A PROMINENT PRIVATE COLLECTION
JOHN GEORGE BROWN (1831-1913)

A Thrilling Moment

Details
JOHN GEORGE BROWN (1831-1913)
A Thrilling Moment
signed and dated 'J.G. Brown. N.A./N.Y. 1880.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
24 x 40 in. (60.9 x 101.6 cm.)
Painted in 1880.
Provenance
John Boughton Simpson, New York, 1880.
Helen Simpson, Lake George, New York, daughter of the above, 1928.
Private collection, by descent, 1973.
Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Lueck, South Carolina, by 2010.
Driscoll Babcock Galleries, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2014.
Literature
S. Benjamin, "National Academy of Design, Fifty-fifth Exhibition," American Art Review, vol. I, 1880, pp. 309-10.
"Art Notes," Brooklyn Daily Union-Argus, March 30, 1880 (as Boys Fishing).
"Fine Arts," New York Evening Post, April 3, 1880, p. 4.
"The National Academy Exhibition," Art Amateur, vol. III, no. 1, June 1880, p. 3.
J.G. Wilson, J. Fiske, Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, New York, 1888, p. 408.
M. Naylor, The National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 1861-1900, vol. 1, New York, 1973, p. 109.
M. Hoppin, The World of J.G. Brown, Chesterfield, Massachusetts, 2010, pp. 180-181, 238n78, illustrated.
Exhibited
New York, National Academy of Design, Fifty-fifth Annual Exhibition, March 30-May 29, 1880, no. 171.

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Caroline Seabolt
Caroline Seabolt Associate Specialist, Head of Sale

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Lot Essay

Known at the “Boot Black Raphael,” John George Brown is among the most celebrated nineteenth-century genre painters. Born in Durham, England, Brown immigrated to New York in 1853 where he studied at the National Academy of Design. Following Brown’s debut of his 1860 painting His First Cigar, lithographers began to reproduce his work, galvanizing his career. Brown’s paintings depicting happy and well-fed street children correlate to Victorian ideas regarding the innocence of childhood, even if the realities were often the contrary. In A Thrilling Moment, Brown captures this romanticized childlike moment of wonder—depicting the crowd of boys waiting in suspense to see what emerges from the waters of New York City. Indeed, the work was so popular in Brown's lifetime that a contemporary critic noted "Mr. Brown's dock scene...is one of the best things he has ever done." ("Art Notes," Brooklyn Daily Union-Argus, March 30, 1880)

J.G. Brown scholar Martha Hoppin writes of the present work, "The entertaining story of A Thrilling Moment centers on boys tangling fishing lines (and limbs) on New York's docks. A pinwheel of arms and legs radiates from the center to create a sense of movement, enhanced by an alternating rhythm of colorful clothing. One foot and elbow jut out toward the viewer for more immediacy, although the overall arrangement resembles a sculpted frieze." (The World of J.G. Brown, Chesterfield, Massachusetts, 2010, p. 181) The previous year Brown depicted another dock scene in The Longshoremen’s Noon (1879, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).
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