George Loring Brown (1814-1889)

George Loring Brown (1814-1889)

An active member of the expatriate colonies in Rome and Florence, George Loring Brown lived abroad for nearly twenty years, reaching acclaim as one of America’s top landscape painters.  Apprenticed as a wood-engraver while only in his teens, Brown was encouraged to pursue painting by a portraitist friend. After a stroke of luck, the young artist sold his first landscape to a wealthy Boston merchant who then funded his first trip to Europe in 1832.  While abroad, Brown’s most influential teacher was the Louvre, and he spent hours copying the works of Claude Lorraine, Jacob Ruisdael and John Constable.  Returning to Boston under the high praise of Washington Allston, Brown became known for his idealized Italian landscapes.  

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While recognized today as a great 19th century painter, Brown received a mixed reception upon returning to Boston.  After exhibiting in the Athenaeum in 1860, Brown wrote: “The fact is my gallery has created a great stir here, and all the artists cry out too rich!! Too much effect!! – but I say that I have not enough.  I intend to paint still stronger.” [1] Boston critics eventually warmed to Brown’s thick application of paint and vibrant palette, and Brown exhibited a number of White Mountain scenes at the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the National Academy of Design.  Seth Vose was one of many who recognized the quality of Brown’s oils and received frequent invitations to join him for a cigar, some whisky and some business talk.

References: Thomas W. Leavitt, “Let the Dogs Bark, George Loring Brown and the Critics,” American Art Review, Jan – Feb 1974; Who Was Who in American Art. 

[1] Letter to John O. Sargent, April 4, 1860, Manuscript Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.

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