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    Description

    R. BROWNELL MCGREW (American, 1916-1994)
    Children of the Sun, 1989
    Oil on board
    36 x 66 inches (91.4 x 167.6 cm)
    Signed lower right: R. Brownell McGrew
    Artist's label verso

    Brownell McGrew roamed the back country of Arizona and New Mexico for over thirty years sketching, photographing, and befriending the Navaho and Hopi people who lived there. He loved both the land and people of the Southwest and painted each with skill and affection. Born in Columbus, Ohio, McGrew was introduced to the desert landscape when his family moved to Southern California when he was a boy. He discovered a natural inclination for art at an early age and won a scholarship to the Otis School of Art in Los Angeles, where he excelled in honing his natural talent.

    After college he worked briefly as a commercial artist for the movie studios, but his real passion was the native cultures and land of the contemporary Southwest. He had first traveled to the region with landscape painter James Swinnerton and soon excelled at capturing the colors and light of the mountains and deserts. Although he quickly mastered the landscape genre, he often said that his real preference in art was to paint the native people of the Southwest. He and his wife lived adjacent to the Hopi and Navaho reservations for much of his artistic career and he frequently ventured deep into the interior of those reservations. His paintings depicted with skill and sensitivity the daily lives of his subjects.

    Along the way, McGrew developed his own distinctive style and techniques. He wanted his finished paintings to retain the look of "wet paint," because he felt that sensation added to the painting's freshness and vitality. To achieve that high gloss, he did not use a lacquer, but instead created his own formula of oil paint, linseed oil, and turpentine; a technique that results in paintings rich in color, detail, and luminosity.

    "Children of the Sun" illustrates the best of McGrew's talents as an artist and storyteller. The setting is the sun drenched, multi-colored desert and mountain landscape of the Navaho reservation. He has populated his canvas with several Navaho children in traditional dress which is painted in intricate detail. Most likely these are people that the artist knew well and whom he had observed on many occasions. The figure of the small girl in the foreground is a motif that he frequently used in his paintings. The work can be seen simultaneously as an overall scene of Navaho life on the reservation and as a series of small individual vignettes. All are set against a background that shows McGrew's great skill in capturing the colors and nuances of the high desert - the bright colors and details of the foreground subtly give way to the more subdued and cool shades and tones of the distant mountains. In this painting, McGrew ably combines his talent as both a portrait painter and master landscapist.


    Condition Report*: Very good condition. Framed Dimensions 44 X 74 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    5th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,777

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