John George Brown (November 11, 1831 – February 8, 1913), British and American painter, was born in Durham, England, on 11 November 1831. He studied at Newcastle-on-Tyne, in the Edinburgh Academy. After moving to New York City in 1853, he studied with Thomas Seir Cummings at the National Academy of Design, where he was a National Academician from 1861-1863. He was the Academy's vice-president from 1899 to 1904. In 1866 he became one of the charter members of the Water-Color Society, of which he was president from 1887 to 1904. Brown became famous for his dipictions of street urchins he found on the streets of New York, like bootblacks, street musicians, posy sellers, newsboys, etc. His Passing Show (Paris, Salon, 1877) and Street Boys at Play (Paris Exhibition, 1900) are good examples of his popular talent. Brown's art is best characterized as British genre paintings adapted to American subjects. Essentially literary, it is executed with precise detail, but is poor in color, and more popular with the general public than with connoisseurs.
- Wishing to more faithfully capture his subjects as they appear 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