Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr. American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 999

Brown gained international acclaim as an accomplished watercolorist, and here he uses the medium to present his own image through flattened forms and matte surfaces. Enclosed by the deep blue tonalities of an indistinct interior, he conveys a pensive mood as he gazes into a mirror, setting up an echo chamber of dualities. We see the artist, implausibly, in both profile and three-quarter views; he contemplates himself in the mirror, while his reflection stares at us. After completing a master’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, Brown became the first African American hired by the U.S. government’s inaugural work-relief program for the arts, and he later worked for the Works Progress Administration in Philadelphia.

Self-Portrait, Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr. (American, Wilmington, North Carolina 1907–1994 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Watercolor, charcoal, and graphite on paper

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