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1002 Words Nov 23rd, 2013 5 Pages
Formal Analysis: The Last Moments of John Brown

The Last Moments of John Brown is a painting by Thomas Hovenden. It is an oil on canvas painting painted in 1884. The dimensions of the painting are 46 1/8 x 38 3/8 inches. This piece was painted to depict abolitionist martyr John Brown being taken to his execution in Charlestown, Virginia, on December 2, 1859. The piece is currently located at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, California and its original location is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. On October 16th, 1859, John Brown led a group of twenty-one men in an attack on the Harpers Ferry Arsenal. His idea was to go from town to town arming black slaves hoping to spark a rebellion. The uprising was
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The one thing that really stands out about this painting to me is that John Brown was a free white man, but Thomas Hovenden decided to paint him as a colored man. He also decided to give him a beard similar to the one that Jesus Christ had. This further establishes that Thomas Hovenden was trying to paint John Brown as a Jesus-like figure to the African Americans, specifically slaves.
I believe Thomas Hovenden was correct to paint John Brown as a Jesus figure to African Americans. John Brown was born a white man, which at that time was considered above blacks. However, John Brown similar to Jesus did not shun those who were viewed below him. They both gave their lives to help those people. Biographer Richard Owen Boyer emphasizes in his book, that Brown was "an American who gave his life that millions of other Americans might be free." Soon after John Brown’s death, the civil war was fought and slavery was abolished. African Americans became free, just as people on Earth were freed from their sins. Although slaver was abolished, the idea of civil rights took a while to be accepted, similar to the idea of Christianity.
Thomas Hovenden’s idea that there is a bright future in store for blacks is correct. He probably didn’t expect that future to take so long to be established. Even though slavery was abolished shortly after John Brown’s

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