BYRON BROWNE (1907-1961)
Lady Lion Tamer
signed 'Byron Browne' (lower right)—signed again, dated 'July 1946' and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
38 x 30 in. (96.5 x 76.2 cm.)
Painted in 1946
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bissett, 1946.
Private collection, New York.
Christie's, New York, 5 May 1999, lot 196, sold by the above.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
B. Wolf, "Convincing Proof," The Art Digest, vol. 21, November 15, 1946, p. 10.
H. McBride, The New York Sun, November 15, 1946.
New York, Kootz Gallery, An Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Byron Browne, November 11-30, 1946, no. 1.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1946, Lady Lion Tamer exemplifies Byron Browne's distinct painting style developed in the 1940s utilizing gestural brushwork and highly textured surfaces. As a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, Browne imbued his subjects—ranging from archaic mythology to whimsical circus themes—with avant-garde painting techniques inspired by modern masters such as Georges Braque, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. The present work debuted at Browne's 1946 solo show at the Kootz Gallery in New York, where the circus was a central theme. One critic observed, "Byron Browne is currently concerned with the circus: its sawdust, its performers, its décor... he is indisputably a virtuoso of the palette. Looking at his paintings, it is immediately obvious that he loves living, that he loves painting. His canvases are rich, gregarious, bombastically vital" (L. Lerman, House & Garden, December 1946).
‌According to The Art Digest critic Ben Wolf, the show was "convincing proof of Browne's unquestionable talents and right to a position as one of the important young creative artists in America..." ("Convincing Proof," Arts Magazine, vol. 21, November 1946, p. 10). He described the present work as "almost Assyrian with its stylized beast with flowerlike mane." Indeed, while bold linework and overlapping shapes pay homage to Picasso, the imaginative, carnival-like subject matter is recognizably Browne's and executed in the unique style that garnered him critical acclaim.

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