Jessica and Lorenzo by George Loring Brown

  • This romantic landscape was composed especially for the Paris Salon of 1848 by George Loring Brown
  • It depicts a scene from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
  • Dramatic light and shadow define the moonlit scene, emphasizing the intimacy of the scene
  • Brown's landscapes are represented in prominent museums including the Met and the Smithsonian
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-3745

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George Loring Brown
1814-1889 | American

Jessica and Lorenzo 

Signed, located and dated "G.L. Brown, Paris, 1848" (lower left)
Oil on canvas laid down on Masonite

“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!” — Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene I

 This moody and monumental nocturne painting captures a moonlit view of an Italian riverbank. It was composed especially for the Paris Salon of 1848 by George Loring Brown, an American expatriate artist celebrated for his romantic landscapes, especially those of Italy. For any artist to have a work accepted at the Salon was a significant accomplishment, but for an American painter to show was a truly rare occurrence. The painting’s rich interplay of light and shadow and softened figures lend it a contemplative, lyrical atmosphere. The phenomenal work is not only one of the most finely executed in the artist’s oeuvre, but it also possesses an arresting beauty to truly set it apart.

With the bridges, towers and cupolas of the city in the distance, the composition includes a young couple in the foreground seated near a grand villa, while the entire scene is softened by the incandescent glow of the moon. Brown had a love for literary themes, and in his title for this piece, the artist alludes to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The action of the play takes place in two locations — the bustling trade city of Venice and the idealized fictional rural estate of Belmont. This painting depicts act 5, scene 1 in which Shylock’s runaway daughter, Jessica, and her new husband Lorenzo muse upon love, music and moonlight in the gardens of Belmont. The young lovers are almost hidden, dwarfed against the expansive sky and waters, their scale and closeness underscoring the intimacy and romance of the scene.

George Loring Brown was born in Boston, where he started his career as a wood engraver before studying under Washington Allston, a painter who led the Romantic landscape movement in America and who painted his own version of Jessica and Lorenzo. He moved to Europe as a young man where he would spend most of his adult life, living primarily in Italy. He is best known for his romantic European landscapes marked by dramatic chiaroscuro like the present work, and he became one of most celebrated artists living abroad in the 19th century. Similar examples from the artist belong to prominent permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D. C.) and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Canvas: 48 3/4" high x 63 4/5" wide
Frame: 62 7/8" high x 78 6/8" wide

Paris Salon, 1848

James H. Craig and Randy S. Johnson, Sarasota, FL
Jessica and Lorenzo by George Loring Brown
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: America
Type: Paintings
Depth: 6.75
Width: 78.63
Height: 62.88
Style: Academic
Canvas Width: 63.812
Canvas Height: 48.750
Jessica and Lorenzo by George Loring Brown
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