George de Forest Brush
Birth Date: September 28, 1855
Death Date: April 24, 1941
Artist Gallery
George de Forest Brush was born in Tennessee and raised in Darien, Connecticut. He pursued his art education at the National Academy of Design in New York, and later, traveled abroad to study painting in Paris. After spending six years studying abroad, Brush returned to the States to paint American subjects. In the spring of 1882, Brush travelled to the foot of the Rocky Mountains to paint the Native American people. For more than a year, Brush lived among the Arapahoe and Shoshone people in Wyoming, and the Crow in Montana. He became a respected and influential friend of the Crow and produced fairly accurate views of Native American life, composing and exhibiting studio paintings based on his experiences. However, Brush declared that he did not wish to be a historian of Native American people, and as a result, his depictions are strikingly personal. Increasingly disturbed by the rapid industrialization of American society, Brush offered, in his art, the perfect escape — a beautiful pre-industrial world where idealized Native Americans live in an environment undisturbed by modern society. For Brush, the figure of the Native American became a metaphor for a nation losing its regard for art born of craft and tradition. Additionally, Brush is known for his exploration of common human experiences, such as the sorrow of the Native American woman in his piece entitled “Mourning Her Brave.” Near the turn of the century, Brush gained renown for his images of women and children inspired by Renaissance Madonnas. For nearly two centuries, Brush continued to favor these compositions that illuminated bonds between family members. For these images, he often painted his wife, Nancy, and their children, Nancy and Gerome. Brush’s body of work has been collected by notable museums and galleries, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the National Gallery of Art.