Thursday, August 3, 2017

The religious fervor of American abolitionist John Brown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

"John Brown" (1939) by John Steuart Curry (American, Dunavant, Kansas 1897–1946 Madison, Wisconsin); Oil on canvas, 69 x 45 in.; Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
NEW YORK---On October, 16, 1859, American abolitionist John Brown and twenty-one followers seized the armory at Harper's Ferry in West Virginia. They planned to use its arsenal to force the end of slavery, and many men died in the ensuing battle. Brown was captured and found guilty of treason. Following the trail, he defended his action at Harper's Ferry as the work of God. "I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. I endeavored to act up to that instruction." In 1939, John Steuart Curry, a native of Kansas, and a member of the artistic movement known as Regionalism painted this large portrait, "John Brown" as a study for a larger mural in the rotunda of the Kansas State Capitol. The abolitionist is depicted with a slave at his side, and a crazed messianic expression.