Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


Ernest George Brown

Nationality: English
Date of birth: 1851
Place of birth: Minster
Date of death: 18 February 1915
Place of death: London
Category: print dealer


Ernest George Brown was a London art dealer, the son of an auctioneer, John Walker Brown and his wife Eleanor. He was born in 1851 and baptised at St Saviour's Church in Chelsea on 28 January 1852. He married Eliza ('Elsie') Taylor on 5 January 1885. He was then 33 and his wife, 26. They had two children, Helen Elsie and Ernest Frank. In 1891, the census records the family as living in London, with their daughter Helen, 4 (their son Oliver was a year older). By 1911 the son was also recorded as an art dealer.

They lived at Dulwich Village.


Whistler first met Brown when he was a young man working in the office of Messrs. Seeley & Co. Whistler made a significant impression on him and when Brown began working for the Fine Art Society, he persuaded the Society to publish three of Whistler's London plates. Before this date Brown had worked for The Portfolio which had published Billingsgate [51] in January 1878. In 1879 when Whistler was in financial difficulty after the Ruskin trial, Brown, who had become the assistant manager of the Fine Art Society, persuaded its directors to offer Whistler a commission for twelve plates to be made in Venice.

Brown helped to organise a number of Whistler exhibitions at the Fine Art Society: of Venice etchings in 1880 and 1883; lithographs in 1895 and silverware in 1902. He commissioned a portrait of his daughter from Whistler. Rose and Gold: 'Pretty Nellie Brown' y451 was begun probably late November 1895 at 8 Fitzroy Street but not fully completed until May 1900.

He later moved to the Leicester Galleries, where he became a partner in 1903.


UK census 1871 , 1891, 1901, 1911,, marriage certificate ; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908 ; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 ; UK Census 1881; MS note with Glasgow University Library, Whistler LB 9; Brown, Oliver, Exhibition: the Memoirs of Oliver Brown, London, 1968 .