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Richard Norris Brooke

Richard Norris Brooke

About the artist

Richard Norris Brooke, a native of Warrenton, Virginia, established a reputation in the 1880s as a painter of Negro subjects.

Biography

Richard Norris Brooke, a native of Warrenton, Virginia, established a reputation in the 1880s as a painter of Negro subjects.  His early artistic career was interrupted by the Civil War.  After the war, he was able to study at the Pennsylvania Academy, and in 1877-78 he studied in Paris with Leon Bonnat, a realist and portrait painter.  Pastoral Visit was his first major painting after his return from France.  In it he shows a dignified elderly black minister seated at a table with a family of his parishioners.  What is important here is that a white, Southern artist in the 1880s wanted to depict his fellow Southerners, the Negroes, in a sympathetic and dignified light, even though he saw them in a hierarchical status different from his own.  Brooke saw the Negroes as an integral part of Southern culture and wanted to represent them as such.  His Pastoral Visit of 1880 was for many years one of the most popular paintings at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington.

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