John Brown’s Beard

John Brown’s body might be a-mouldering in the grave, but his beard lives on. From an era populated by crazy facial hair, fewer beards seem crazier than Brown’s—in large part to this image:

This detail comes from John Steuart Curry’s Tragic Prelude, which hangs in the Kansas state capitol. Fans of 1970’s rock will remember the image from the cover of the self-titled debut album by Kansas.

In the image, Brown’s eyes have all the fire-and-brimstone craziness of an Old Testament prophet. As a result, the painting might look almost cartoonish. Seen full scale, though, it’s quite an impressive work, capturing some of that compelling “X factor” that makes Brown such a riveting personality. It’s chock-full-o symbolism, too, and the painting as a whole tells a pretty interesting story in a pretty interesting way.

The beard, though…. Too bad it looks, to us, a little like the pelt of a dead Muppet.

This entry was posted in Emerging Civil War. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to John Brown’s Beard

  1. Meg Thompson says:

    I am currently watching the made for TV movie The North & The South. It was made in the 80s, I think. Johnny Cash plays John Brown in the movie, beard and all. I am so glad other people think about stuff like this–beards, weird facial hair, bad hair days. I wish someone would Photoshop all the beards off the generals, just to see what might have been there. I don’t think such an endeavor falls under the title of “history,” but it sounds pretty interesting nevertheless.

    • Amanda Warren says:

      Just checked out an array of John Brown images…he needs the beard! And while it does hearken back to the Old Testament prophets, the bouffant hair proves him a precursor of our televangelists!

  2. Pingback: Week of October 10-14 In Review | Emerging Civil War

Leave a Reply