George de Forest Brush (1855–1941)
The Weaver, 1889
George de Forest Brush studied in Paris with the French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), who impressed upon the young American the importance of an exacting technique, careful anatomical modeling, and the pursuit of exotic subject matter. After returning to the United States in 1880, Brush studied the Arapahoe and Shoshone in Wyoming, the Crow in Montana, the Sioux in the Dakotas, and the Apache in Florida, sketching the tribe members and collecting artifacts. Unconcerned with ethnographical accuracy, Brush created romanticized pastiches of Native American life. In The Weaver, an indigenous man weaves a Navajo rug on an upright loom in an earthen-walled setting suggestive of Pueblo culture. Brush likely painted this work in his New York studio, using as props various objects from his collection. Brush’s weaver represents two purportedly “vanishing races”: the Native American and the craftsman, a rapidly disappearing figure in late-nineteenth-century America’s increasingly industrialized workplace.
Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.