Artwork Information

  • Title:

    North Rome, Tiber River – View of the Pons Mulvius near Sunset

  • Artist:

    Brown, George Loring

  • Artist Bio:

    American, 1814–1889

  • Date:

    1857

  • Medium:

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions:

    32 3/4 x 53 1/8 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Friends of the Wichita Art Museum, Volunteers of the Gift Shop

  • Object Number:

    1988.25

  • Display:

    Currently on Display


About the Artwork

George Loring Brown was one of America’s most prominent 19th century expatriate painters. Early in his career he made a brief visit to Europe where he first became acquainted with the works of the 17th century French master, Claude Lorraine, whose landscapes re­mained a life-long source of inspiration to Brown. In 1839, when he was only 25 years of age, he left America for Italy where he painted extensively throughout the ensuing 20 years. It was in 1857 that he executed this very handsome work titled Near Sunset: View of Rome. Although the painting itself depicts a European site, those features conventionally found in 19th century American landscapes are clearly in evidence, including the tall dominant tree right of center, the bushes and smaller trees scattered in and near the foreground, a tree stump in the right foreground with grazing cattle nearby and an all-encompassing atmospheric quality throughout the composition that lends pictorial reality to the romantically luminous sky overhead.

Here Brown, much in the manner of Claude Lor­raine, has located all of the traditional compositional devices in such a way as to guide the eye into the distance along a zigzag path, focusing attention alter­nately on one side of the composition and then on the other, beginning with the dominant foreground tree at the right, then left to the tall slender tree along the edge of the dirt roadway, then to the cluster of bushes in the middle ground, then to the arched entrance of the bridge at the left, etc. Moreover, as the eye penetrates the successively receding planes of pictorial space, tonal intensity of forms correspondingly diminishes. Yet ob­ject definition is never entirely lost. Indeed, the com­position presents a detailed and topographically ac­curate view of Rome looking south from the northern bend of the Tiber River toward Hadrian’s Tomb and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, both seen in the distant early evening mist. At the extreme left, in the foreground, is an ox cart at the base of what appears to be a terraced open-air restaurant sheltered by slender twisted vines. Slightly beyond, and spanning the Tiber, is the Milvian Bridge or Ponte Molle, which historically is of much special note as the site where, in a momen­tous battle in A.D. 312, Constantine the Great defeated the troops of Maxentius and thereby won the un­disputed title of Emperor of Rome.

George Loring Brown was born in Boston in 1814. In his youth he worked as a wood engraver but, following the advice and encouragement of the American portrait­ist George P.A. Healy, he pursued a career in painting. Following his 20-year sojourn in Italy, he returned to America in 1859 and spent the remainder of his long and productive life working and exhibiting in Boston and New York. Brown died in Maiden, Massachusetts in 1889 at the age of 75 years.