George Loring Brown


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Painter and printmaker. A specialist in Italian views, during a long residency abroad he acquired the nickname of “Claude Brown” in response to his affinity for Claude Lorrain's golden vistas enriched with classical architecture and picturesque country life. He also painted American scenes, most often depicting his native Boston or the New England shore. Brown was apprenticed as a teenager to Boston wood-engraver and portrait painter Alonzo Hartwell (1805–73). He also received some instruction in painting from George P. A. Healy before departing in 1832 for two years in Europe. Following visits to Antwerp and London, he continued on to Paris, where he entered the studio of the romantic landscape and genre specialist Eugène Isabey. After returning to the United States, he worked in New York, Boston, and other New England locations, producing portraits and narratives as well as landscapes. With Washington Allston's encouragement, in 1840 he sailed again for Europe and soon settled in Italy. For two decades, he supplied tourists and Boston collectors with paintings and etchings that served as souvenirs of the grand tour. Brown lived in Florence for several years before relocating to Rome. He also traveled widely throughout Italy and occasionally to Switzerland, Paris, or other more northern venues. To meet demand for his scenes, he hired a painting assistant, and many of his works are variants of a single view. Nevertheless his best works display vigorous brushwork, vivid contrasts, sparkling colors, precisely rendered detail, and an atmospheric glow suggesting affinities with luminism. During the final three decades of his life, Brown lived most of the time in the Boston vicinity. There he produced Italian scenes based on sketches and memories but also successfully adapted his style to the American landscape, as in the shimmering panorama View of Norwalk Islands, Norwalk, Connecticut (Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1864). However, his romantic realism soon seemed old-fashioned in the face of newer Barbizon and impressionist approaches. In 1879–80 he again visited Paris and other European sites. Brown died near Boston, in Malden, where he had resided for some time.

Subjects: Art.

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