Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections


1952 Byron Browne Born: Yonkers, New York 1907 Died: New York, New York 1961 oil on canvas 28 x 24 1/8 in. (71.1 x 61.2 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Harris J. Klein 1966.85 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 42A

Luce Center Quote

“I do not view the world as a sad place in which to live; therefore my pictures are not of a pessimistic nature.” Browne, quoted in Rand, Byron Browne: Paintings & Drawings from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, 1987

Luce Center Label

Several of Byron Browne’s paintings show brightly colored images of jesters, clowns, circus performers, and dancers. Here, the expressive brushstrokes create a sense of movement in the peaks and bells of the jester’s hat, which wave in all directions. Browne abstracted the details of the jester’s profile to create a colorful jumble of shapes, from the zigzags of his eyelashes to the curved form of his cheekbone. The artist was an early proponent of abstract art in the 1930s, but when he painted Jester, in 1952, a younger crowd of “action painters” commanded the critics’ attention. The foolish character in this painting might symbolize Browne himself, whose work seemed dated by comparison. Or, the painter may have compared the dominance of abstract expressionism to the jester’s absurd rule of the court.



Figure - bust

Performing arts - circus - clown


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Byron Browne

Born: Yonkers, New York 1907 Died: New York, New York 1961

More works in the collection by
Byron Browne