Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 20 Greatest NYC Paintings — #14

The Longshoremen’s Noon by John George Brown

03-12 Longshoremens Noon

British-born immigrant, John George Brown, is a bit controversial in artistic circles. Famous for his paintings of newsboys and street urchins, he invariably romanticized and glamorized the life of the lower working classes. Not a social reformer, like Jacob Riis, Brown saw his young self in these children and became one of the first New Yorkers to rhapsodize how much better the city was in the bad old days (a tradition that continues to this day). But this depiction of adult longshoremen, who have labored all morning on the docks and now catch a few minutes of lunch and rest, is a bit easier to take. Here, Brown’s attention to detail and variety of color take center stage as we wait with the fellows for the Irish laborer to finish his story, put his dormant hat back on, and resume the tasks of the day.

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