Art versus Law
David Gilmour Blythe
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Visions and Myths of a Nation, 1800–1890
According to its first owner, who acquired the work from David Gilmour Blythe, Art versus Law “portray[ed] a true incident in the life of the artist.” Blythe showed himself arriving, canvases and brushes in hand, at the door to the attic studio on which he owed rent, only to find it padlocked by his landlord and posted “TO LET. ON GOOD SECURITY.” The artist, clearly lacking any “security,” is dressed in tattered clothes and worn boots. On the barrel to his right and in the wood box at the left are broken and empty bottles, which suggest the cause of Blythe’s distressed situation.
Oil on canvas
frame: 32 7/8 × 29 × 2 5/8 in. (83.5 × 73.7 × 6.7 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower left: "Blythe"
Dick S. Ramsay Fund
David Gilmour Blythe (American, 1815-1865). Art versus Law, 1859-1860. Oil on canvas, frame: 32 7/8 × 29 × 2 5/8 in. (83.5 × 73.7 × 6.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 40.907 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 40.907_SL1.jpg)
overall, 40.907_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.
Can you tell me more about this painting?
This is "Art versus Law" by the American Artist David Gilmour Blythe. It was painted between 1859 and 1860. Blythe created satirical and sardonic paintings based on the political and social situations he found when he moved to Pittsburgh in the 1850s. Here, an artist has just realized that he's been locked out of his own studio because he fell behind on his rent payments! The landlord has already started advertising for a new tenant. Some things never change -- it's hard to be a "starving artist"!