George Brownlow (1869-1915) was the son of Stephen Brownlow (1828-1896) and the nephew of George Washington Brownlow (1835-1876), both noted landscape, genre and portrait artists. Stephen paid for his son’s tuition at London’s South Kensington art school, where, according to Marshall Hall, author of “The Artists of Northumbria, “…in 1881 he passed the Second Grade Art Examination in Freehand & Model Drawing.” At one point son George worked as a painter of crests on railway carriages, painting pictures in his spare time. It is not known when he returned to England’s north, but he exhibited paintings mainly at Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Bewick Club. Hall notes that “…his work is sometimes confused with that of George Washington Brownlow.”
During the Industrial Revolution the city of Newcastle experienced a great rise in wealth from the growth of its shipping and coal industries, with a subsequent increase of interest in the arts. The northeastern coast, which spawned the Staithes Group of artists, as well as Newcastle itself, became magnets for some quite talented artists. The Bewick Club was established in 1884 and was named after Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), the famous Northumbrian wood engraver and naturalist, called the county’s “greatest artist” by the Bewick Society. The Bewick Club became an important regional venue for professional artists, surviving into the 20th century.
This sensitively and finely executed portrait of a gray hunter in bridle shows us why the family was acclaimed for their artistic talents. The horse’s head was painted in such great detail that individual hairs on his hide are discernable. The nostrils are wide open, pink and well-defined. He appears to be gazing past the painter, giving him a noble look. The light is reflected on his face, while the neck is still in shadow. Brownlow painted the background with short, choppy strokes, giving a hint of grass and trees. The greens, golds and grays in the background harmonize well with the soft gray color of the horse. It is signed G. Barlow on the bottom right.
The painting is housed in its original Victorian turned wood oak frame with a wide gesso and gilded slip. This dark frame has acquired a lovely, warm, reddish brown color and glowing patina.
The condition of the painting is excellent. It appears to have been given a light clean not long ago. The frame is also in excellent condition, although there are a few small surface scratches from normal wear over the last 100+ years.
It measures 16 inches wide by 18-5/8 inches high, including the frame.