J. G. Brown became famous for his numerous depictions of street urchins, including bootblacks, street musicians, and posy sellers. He found his young subjects on the streets of New York City. Intent upon depicting these ragamuffins as they appeared on the streets, Brown once complained, “They will change their dress, as though to show the extent of their wardrobe. Being cautioned expressly on Saturday, and told to return in the same fustian jacket, your boy will appear on Monday morning, if he appears at all, in a red woolen shirt. And they are constantly having their hair trimmed-perfect dandies!” Brown’s paintings, like Horatio Alger’s novels, focus on the pluck of these young entrepreneurs as they “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” In later years, Brown even claimed that many of the young urchins he portrayed had gone on to become successful businessmen.
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- Titles Three For Five (Proper)
- Artist John George Brown, American, born England, 1831-1913
- Medium oil on canvas
- Dimensions 60 x 35 1/2 in. (152.4 x 90.2 cm) frame: 78 7/8 × 54 7/8 × 5 1/2 in. (200.3 × 139.4 × 14 cm)
- Credit Line Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Ireland, AFI.1.1980
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- On View
- Signature Recto, lower right, in black paint: copyright. / J.C.Brown N.A.
- Marks None
- Inscription Verso, backing board attached to strainers, center of board, printed label: No. S-4617 No. S-4617 / FRAME / PICTURE Verso, backing board attached to strainers, upper left of board, pen on label with red boarder: 22 / "THREE FOR FIVE" Verso, backing board, center left of board, detached printed label: 2 Verso, backing board, board, ink on printed label: TITLE Three for five! / ARTIST J. G. Brown / ADDRESS 51 West 10th M Ke [illegible] N. Y. City / Return ADDRESS Verso, wood board attached to strainers, center right, pencil: Three for Five! / J. G. Brown / 51 W. 10 [blurred, encircled]
- Provenance John George Brown (1831-1913), New York, 1890, retained by him until his death, 1913; auctioned in The Finished Pictures and Studies Left by the late J. G. Brown, N.A, American Art Galleries, New York, February 9-10, 1914, lot 79; purchased by E. E. Dickinson, Essex, Connecticut [see note 1]; inherited by his daughter Ruth Dickinson Brooks, Essex, Connecticut; inherited by her daughter Enid Brooks Warner (1919-2010), Essex, Connecticut [see note 2]; dealer Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, 1978; purchased by the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama 1980
1. According to annotated auction catalogue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2. According to information provided by the Coe Kerr Gallery at time of sale to the Art Fund, Inc.