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Brush with Greatness

Wikisimpsons - The Simpsons Wiki
Season 2 Episode
030 "Old Money"
"Brush with Greatness"
"Lisa's Substitute" 032
"Hey Mom, these paintings are good. While I know first-hand how fragile young talent is, I'd love to hear the particulars of how your gift was squashed."
Lisa to Marge
"Brush with Greatness"
Brush with Greatness promo.jpg
Ringo Starr looking at one of Marge's many paintings of him.
Episode Information
Episode number: 31
Season number: S2 E18
Production code: 7F18
Original airdate: April 11, 1991
Chalkboard gag: "I will not hide behind the Fifth Amendment"
Guest star(s): Ringo Starr as himself
Jon Lovitz as Professor Lombardo
Showrunner(s): James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Sam Simon
Written by: Brian K. Roberts
Directed by: Jim Reardon
DVD features

"Brush with Greatness" is the eighteenth episode of Season 2 of The Simpsons and the thirty-first episode overall. It originally aired on April 11, 1991. The episode was written by Brian K. Roberts and was directed by Jim Reardon. It guest stars Ringo Starr as himself and Jon Lovitz as Professor Lombardo.


"Marge's interest in art is reawakened when Homer finds old portraits of Ringo Starr that Marge painted when she was a teenager. She takes an art class at the local college, wins an art competition, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Mr. Burns. Meanwhile, Homer begins exercising after getting stuck in a water park ride and humiliated on the evening news."


After Bart and Lisa see Krusty do his show at the Mt. Splashmore water park, they ask Homer if they can go there. Homer gets annoyed, but reluctantly decides to take them there. The family goes to Mt. Splashmore, where they ride H2WHOA!, a crowded water slide. As Homer goes on H2WHOA!, he gets lodged in a section of a pipe, and after a rescue crew removes him from the ride, with the help of a large crane, he realizes that he needs to lose weight and announces that he will go on a diet.

While Homer is looking for his weights, Bart stumbles on paintings of Ringo Starr that Marge made as a student in high school, when she had a crush on him. Lisa asks Marge what her painting talent was as a schoolgirl, and she says that as a high school student, she was scolded for doing a painting of Ringo Starr. She sent a painting to Starr for an "honest opinion," but never got a response. Lisa suggests that Marge take a painting class at Springfield Community College, which she does. She makes a painting of Homer, which her teacher, Professor Lombardo, praises. It wins the college art show.

Meanwhile, Mr. Burns grows exasperated as a number of hired artists fail to paint a suitable portrait of him for installation in the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts. After seeing Marge's winning painting in the newspaper, Smithers has Mr. Burns consider Marge. She reluctantly agrees, and Burns insists that the painting portray him as a beautiful man. During the sessions to paint him, Burns constantly heckles different members of the Simpsons family, causing Marge's patience to wear thin. When Homer announces that he weighs 239 pounds, which means he's lost 21 pounds, Burns insults Homer and belittles his weight-loss efforts by calling him "the fattest thing he's ever seen." That's the last straw for Marge, and she tells Mr. Burns to leave the house, saying that she can finish the picture without him.

Marge concedes that given Mr. Burns' personality, she can't paint a beautiful picture of him. Homer encourages Marge to finish the painting, and in the mail she gets a reply from Ringo Starr, who answered her letter, apologizing for replying late and praising the picture she had sent him years earlier. Now inspired, Marge finishes the painting of Mr. Burns, and at the opening of the Burns Wing, she unveils the painting. The painting depicts a naked, frail, and weak Burns. The people are shocked, until Marge explains that it depicts what Burns actually is: Despite all his evil, he is at the end of it all a vulnerable human being which will, one day, be no more, something as beautiful as anything else in the world. Everyone, even Burns, who is at first outraged but then accepts his new glory, praises Marge's painting.


The episode was written by Brian K. Roberts and directed by Jim Reardon. Ringo Starr guest stars as himself (the first member of The Beatles to appear on the show) as well as Jon Lovitz.


"Brush With Greatness" has received almost universal critical acclaim for TV critics and is often cited as a "superb episode". The episode finished thirty-seventh in the ratings for the week it aired, with a Nielsen rating of 12.0.

In other languages[edit]

Language Name Translation
Germany.png Deutsch "Marges Meisterwerk" Marge's masterpiece
Italy Flag.png Italiano "Spennellando alla Grande" Brushing great
Brasil Flag.png Português "Capricha no Retrato" Put Some Effort on the Portrait
Hungary flag.png Magyar "Csak egy ecsetvonás" Just a brush stroke
Flag of Japan.png 日本語 "マージは芸術家" Marge the Artist

The Saga of Carl - title screen.png Wikisimpsons has a collection of images related to "Brush with Greatness".
Season 2 Episodes
Bart Gets an "F" Simpson and Delilah Treehouse of Horror Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish Dancin' Homer Dead Putting Society Bart vs. Thanksgiving Bart the Daredevil Itchy & Scratchy & Marge Bart Gets Hit by a Car One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish The Way We Was Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment Principal Charming Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Bart's Dog Gets an "F" Old Money Brush with Greatness Lisa's Substitute The War of the Simpsons Three Men and a Comic Book Blood Feud