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Brown, Henry Kirke
Henry Kirke Brown (1814-1886)
Birth Place Leyden, Massachusetts
Death Place Newburgh, New York
Born Feb. 24, 1814
Died July 10, 1886
General Notes Henry Kirke Brown was the first artist to cast bronze sculpture in America. Born in Leyden, Massachusetts, he began his career as a painter in Boston, where Chester Harding (1792-1866) taught him portraiture. While working in Cincinnati in 1837 and 1838, he modeled his first portrait busts in clay. He made enough money from commissions for busts in Boston and, subsequently, in Troy and Albany, New York, to pay for a much-anticipated trip to Italy. In 1842 Brown set himself up in Florence and later the next year went to Rome. Weary of ancient historical models, he returned home in 1846, declaring his preference for naturalism over classicism. He opened a studio in Brooklyn where he created his most famous public sculpture: the monumental bronze equestrian George Washington, erected in New York's Union Square in 1856. By the time of his death thirty years later, he had been eclipsed by the younger sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). However, it was Brown who had ushered in the era of the grand public monument and established the model for naturalism in heroic representation that his successors would emulate.
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