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"John George Brown (Nov. 11, 1831–Feb. 8, 1913) was a British citizen and an American painter born in Durham, England on November 11, 1831. His parents apprenticed him to the career of glass worker at the age of fourteen in an attempt to dissuade him from pursuing painting. He studied nights at the School of Design in Newcastle-on-Tyne while working as a glass cutter there between 1849-852 and evenings at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh while working at the Holyrood Glass Works between 1852-1853. After moving to New York City in 1853, he studied with Thomas Seir Cummings at the National Academy of Design where he was elected a National Academician in 1861. Brown was the Academy's vice-president from 1899-1904.
Wishing to more faithfully capture his subjects as they appeared in real life, Brown once said, "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 was trying to capture the spirit of the street children as people who "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."
Many years later, Brown claimed that most of the street children he painted had grown to become successful businessmen.
Brown claimed to bobbies, "I do not paint poor boys solely because the public likes such pictures and pays me for them, but because I love the boys myself, for I, too, was once a poor lad like them."
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..." (Wiki)