John Brown
Original Author: John Steuart Curry
Created: 1939
Medium: Oil on canvas

John Brown

The abolitionist John Brown is depicted in a manic state that suggests "the messianic fervor that fueled his opposition to human bondage," according to the curatorial description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which owns the painting. In the background, a tornado ravages the Kansas landscape, "a meteorological symbol" for the battle over the extension of slavery into the Kansas Territory in the 1850s and the subsequent Civil War. An enslaved man looks up at the massive, terrifying figure of Brown. This painting by artist John Steuart Curry was a study for a mural that Curry created for the rotunda of the Kansas State Capitol.