Love’s Young Dream

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe1887/1887

National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe is best known for sentimental genre pictures and scenes from colonial history. “Love’s Young Dream,” one of her most popular paintings, portrays an idealized vision of traditional rural life and family.

Brownscombe’s ability to create a wealth of believable details adds to the strength of her narrative. A young woman stands on the bottom step of her modest home, gazing longingly toward the road. A man on horseback, presumably her romantic interest, appears in the distance.

Meanwhile, the gray-haired woman—perhaps her mother—glances up from her knitting. Her expression seems to register fondness and concern. The male figure, by contrast, is fully engaged in his reading rather than the narrative unfolding before him.

Brownscombe contrasts the right-hand side of the picture, where all three figures have been placed, with the left, where an unencumbered view of the landscape stretches back to mist-shrouded hills.

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  • Title: Love’s Young Dream
  • Creator: Jennie Augusta Brownscombe
  • Date: 1887/1887
  • selected exhibition history:Jennie Brownscombe 1850–1936: A Woman and Her Art,” The Wayne County Historical Society, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 1996
  • artist profile: Jennie Augusta Brownscombe’s sentimental oil paintings celebrating rural family life and events from American history appealed to popular Victorian tastes in England and the United States. The artist was born in a log cabin in rural northeastern Pennsylvania to William Brownscombe, an English-born farmer, and Elvira Kennedy, a direct descendant of a Mayflower passenger. Thus, Brownscombe’s early life was reminiscent of one of her own paintings. When her father died in 1868, Brownscombe began supporting herself through teaching and creating book and magazine illustrations. Brownscombe also sold the rights to reproduce her watercolor and oil paintings as inexpensive prints, Christmas cards, and calendars. She distributed more than 100 artworks this way, spreading her images into homes nationally. Viewers loved her highly naturalistic style, which included picturesque details that helped them recognize the stories and emotions portrayed. A prize-winning student at the Cooper Institute School of Design for Women and the National Academy of Design, Brownscombe became a founding member of the Art Students League and later served as faculty. In the 1880s and 1890s, Brownscombe studied art in France, spent winters in Rome, and exhibited in London, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. She completed her final large oil painting at age 81 after recovering from a stroke.
  • Physical Dimensions: w32.125 x h21.25 in (Without frame)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photography by Lee Stalsworth
  • External Link: National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Exhibitions: “Four Centuries of Women’s Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts,” 1990–91; “American Women Artists: 1830-1930,” 1987