The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
He arrived in the United States on November 11, 1853, only one of the
thousands of hopefuls who emigrated that year from the British Isles and Europe.
It was his 22nd birthday. Born in Durham, England, near Newcastle upon Tyne,
John George (or “J.G.” as he was usually called) Brown (1831-1913)
had already completed a seven-year apprenticeship to a glasscutter in Newcastle;
at night he had studied drawing for the last three of those years. He had
also studied drawing in Edinburgh, Scotland, for a year, working days at a
glass works, and had spent the summer of 1853 in London. Now he was settled
in Brooklyn, working at the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company and ready, presumably,
to make his fortune. He did. Not as a glassworker, but with his brush. By
the time he died in New York City at age 82, he had become one of America's
foremost figure painters, more famous in his day than either of his contemporaries,
Winslow Homer or Thomas Eakins, and certainly wealthier. His career had not
been harmed, of course, when in 1855 he had married Mary Owen, daughter of
the owner of the Flint Glass Company. With the assistance of his in-laws,
he was able to devote himself full-time to painting under the most favorable
of circumstances. (In an ironic twist, when Mary died some 12 years into their
marriage, J.G. married her 18-year-old sister Emma, who, born the year Brown
arrived in the United States, would have been just a toddler at the time of
his first marriage) (JAMA covers, August 22/29, 1990,
and July 20, 1994).
Southgate MT. Boy With Snowball. JAMA. 2005;293(1):12. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.12