John George Brown

(1831-1913)

John George Brown was born in 1831 in England and immigrated to America in 1853. While in England he studied under William B. Scott and continuing his education at the National Academy of Design in NYC. Brown was one of the most successful genre painters of the late 19th century. He worked as a glassblower in Brooklyn and proceeded to open a studio in 1860, launching his artistic career with a painting entitled "His First Cigar". His paintings of cheery street urchins, vendors and shoeshine boys were quite popular with wealthy collectors. However, Brown falsified his subjects as always happy and healthy with just a touch of grime for cosmetics. These scenes were really below his artistic ability but he did not want to cause social alarm among patrons. Many of Brown's works were reproduced in lithography and widely distributed with packaged teas. The royalties earned from one litho were $25,000. Brown's financial success allowed for him to paint country landscapes for pleasure. He exhibited much of his work at the National Academy of Design from 1858-1900, where he also taught for many years.