Kicking off Dreweatts’ Modern & Contemporary Art auction is Michael J. Browne’s homage to Manchester United painted in 2013. The work shows iconic players such as Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney alongside managers Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson in procession. The central figure, Nemanja Vidić, holds a golden ball as the players walk against a backdrop of triumphant iconography drawing on symbols of strength from the Roman Empire including the Colosseum, a triumphant arch, and the Latin word ‘Legio’meaning ‘chosen body or legion’ reigning high above the players, together with ‘X 20 X’ referring to the number of leagues won by United. To the right of the scene is Manchester United’s stadium and across the painting held high on crosses are large silver trophies with gold crowns signifying their success and achievements.
Michael J. Browne was born in Moss Side, Manchester. Growing up in a difficult household Browne found escapism in art from a very young age. He was inspired by anything that he saw around him and turned his creativity into something positive focusing on drawing. At a young age, Browne went to live with his art teacher and went on to study at Chelsea School of Art followed by an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Browne has always been particularly fascinated with the Renaissance masters and has become renowned for depicting well-known figures encompassing topics of cultural importance, history, or religion. Browne shot to fame in 2001 with his work The Art of the Game depicting Eric Catona as Jesus. The work was displayed at the National Portrait Museum. Before this his copy of the Sistine Chapel painted in the Cocotoo restaurant in Manchester caused great publicity between 1992-1994. Other important figures he has illustrated include Wayne Rooney, Donald Trump, and Jeremy Corbyn.
The work is estimated to fetch £10,000-15,000 in Dreweatts’ Modern & Contemporary auction on 12th October 2021.