John George Brown (American, 1831–1913)
He Toils at Eighty
Signed and dated 'John G. Brown N.A./1884' bottom left; also with artist's name and address on label on upper stretcher verso, oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 20 in. (76.5 x 50.8cm)
The Artist.
The Artist's Studio Sale, January 1892.
Acquired directly from the above sale.
Collection of Isidor Straus of R.H. Macy & Co.
Berry-Hill Galleries Inc., New York, New York (as Still Toils at Eighty).
Acquired directly from the above.
Private Collection, New York.
Sotheby's, New York, sale of May 27, 1993, lot 206.
Acquired directly from the above sale.
Private Collection, New Mexico.
Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, Ortgies and Co., New York, New York, January 26-27, 1892.
"Art Notes and News," in The Art Interchange, XII, June 19, 1884, 148 (reports on the New York Press Club loan exhibition of twenty-one paintings, which includes He Toils at Eighty.)
Catalogue of Paintings by J. G. Brown, N. A., Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, Ortgies and Co., January 26-27, 1892.
"Pictures by J. G. Brown, N. A.," in New York Tribune, January 22, 1892, 7 (described as "the portrait of a leather aproned laborer.").
"A Most Successful Picture Sale," in New York Herald, January 28, 1892, 6 (mentioned).
In the last thirty years of his career, John George Brown added a new subject to his repertoire and started capturing elderly figures (sometimes couples) in deserted rural towns outside of New York City. As the artist put it in a 1894 interview: "In the summer, when I take my vacation, I go to some country place, way back from any railroad, and paint old country couples, who never saw a city and don't know what a railroad train is like." Similar to his approach when he was painting the local fishermen and sailors of Grand Manan Island, Brown turned to elderly models to record their isolation and suggest both their singularity and their impressive moral strength. The present painting belongs to a series of portraits Brown did to show the variety of local rural professions still in existence outside of the big cities. Here, the artist depicts a blacksmith. This particular model appears in other works by Brown, such as As Good as New, where he is shown caning a chair.
We wish to thank Ms. Martha Hoppin for confirming the authenticity of the present work, and for her kind assistance in cataloguing it.
Proceeds of the sale will support The Couse-Sharp Historic Site in Taos, New Mexico.

Estimate $8,000-12,000

Sold for $3,750 (buyer's premium included)