A Society Portrait

As told by Robert C. Vose, Jr. (1911-1998)

George de Forest Brush (1855-1941), Nancy,
the Artist's Daughter [Mrs. Robert Pearmain]

Collection of the New Britain Museum of
American Art

Most biographers indicate that the Brush residence was run in a very casual style. The younger children were often not clothed at all and the house was in general disarray. George de Forest Brush (1855-1941) did have a following, but his income was never large. On the other hand he had considerable pride and self-esteem and didn’t like to be pushed around.

He had a fine commission to paint a society matron for, I believe, a considerable amount. She had an elegant dress made for the occasion which Brush thought abominable. He dressed her as he thought more fitting, not letting her see the portrait till it was finished. When he did turn it around, she was shocked and furious, insisting that he change the dress to her own. When she stormed out of the studio he called his daughter, Mrs. Pearmain, and asked her to take the chair, adding her head to the portrait.

We later owned the portrait and sold it to the New Britain Museum in Connecticut.

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