Ford Madox Brown

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Ford Madox Brown
Ford madox brown.jpg
Self-portrait 1850
Born(1821-04-16)16 April 1821
Died6 October 1893(1893-10-06) (aged 72)
Resting place St Pancras and Islington Cemetery
NationalityFranco-British
Known forPainting
Notable work
Work (painting)
The Last of England (painting)
Movement Pre-Raphaelite

Ford Madox Brown (16 April 1821 – 6 October 1893) was a French-born British painter of moral and historical subjects, notable for his distinctively graphic and often Hogarthian version of the Pre-Raphaelite style. Arguably, his most notable painting was Work (1852–1865). Brown spent the latter years of his life painting the twelve works known as The Manchester Murals , depicting Mancunian history, for Manchester Town Hall.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

William Hogarth English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist

William Hogarth FRSA was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects", perhaps best known being his moral series A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode. Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".

<i>Work</i> (painting) painting by Ford Madox Brown

Work (1852–1865) is a painting by Ford Madox Brown that is generally considered to be his most important achievement. It exists in two versions. The painting attempts to portray, both literally and analytically, the totality of the Victorian social system and the transition from a rural to an urban economy. Brown began the painting in 1852 and completed it in 1865, when he set up a special exhibition to show it along with several of his other works. He wrote a detailed catalogue explaining the significance of the picture.

Contents

Early life

Brown, at left, with William Holman Hunt. Caricature by Max Beerbohm from Rossetti and His Circle. Rossetti-10.jpg
Brown, at left, with William Holman Hunt. Caricature by Max Beerbohm from Rossetti and His Circle .

Brown was the grandson of the medical theorist John Brown, founder of the Brunonian system of medicine. His great grandfather was a Scottish labourer. His father Ford Brown served as a purser in the Royal Navy, including a period serving under Sir Isaac Coffin and a period on HMS Arethusa. He left the Navy after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

John Brown (doctor) Scottish physician

John Brown was a Scottish physician and the creator of the Brunonian system of medicine.

The Brunonian system of medicine is a theory of medicine which regards and treats disorders as caused by defective or excessive excitation. It was developed by the Scottish physician John Brown and is outlined in his 1780 publication Elementa Medicinae. It drew on the theories of his teacher William Cullen, but whereas Cullen set out to create a systematic nosology of diseases, Brown argued for a unified model in which all disease was related to stimulation.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

In 1818, Ford Brown married Caroline Madox, of an old Kentish family, from which his middle name was taken. [1] Brown's parents had limited financial resources, and they moved to Calais to seek cheaper lodgings, where their daughter Elizabeth Coffin was born in 1819 and their son Ford Madox Brown in 1821.

Calais Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Calais is a city and major ferry port in northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's prefecture is its third-largest city of Arras. The population of the metropolitan area at the 2010 census was 126,395. Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, which is only 34 km (21 mi) wide here, and is the closest French town to England. The White Cliffs of Dover can easily be seen on a clear day from Calais. Calais is a major port for ferries between France and England, and since 1994, the Channel Tunnel has linked nearby Coquelles to Folkestone by rail.

Brown's education was limited, as the family frequently moved between lodgings in the Pas-de-Calais and relatives in Kent, but he showed artistic talent in copying of old master prints. His father initially sought a naval career for his son, writing to his former captain Sir Isaac Coffin. The family moved to Bruges in 1835 so Brown could study at the academy under Albert Gregorius. Brown moved to Ghent in 1836 to continue his studies under Pieter van Hanselaere. He moved to Antwerp in 1837 to study under Gustaf Wappers. He continued to study in Antwerp after his mother's death in 1839. His sister died in 1840, and then his father in 1842.

Pas-de-Calais Department of France

Pas-de-Calais is a department in northern France named after the French designation of the Strait of Dover, which it borders.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

Bruges Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country.

Works

The Last of England depicting an emigrating couple, 1855 Brown last of england.jpg
The Last of England depicting an emigrating couple, 1855

The Tate Gallery holds an early example of Brown's work, a portrait of his father. [2] He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840, a work inspired by Lord Byron's poem The Giaour (now lost) and then completed a version of The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, with his cousin and future wife Elisabeth Bromley as one of his models. He lived in Montmartre with his new wife and aging father in 1841. He painted Manfred on the Jungfrau , inspired by Lord Byron's poem Manfred while he was in Paris.

Lord Byron English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet, peer, and politician who became a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence, and is considered one of the historical leading figures of the Romantic movement of his era. He is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular.

<i>The Giaour</i> poem by Lord Byron

The Giaour is a poem by Lord Byron first published in 1813 by John Murray and printed by Thomas Davison was the first in the series of his Oriental romances. The Giaour proved to be a great success when published, consolidating Byron's reputation critically and commercially.

<i>Manfred</i> closet drama by Lord Byron

Manfred: A dramatic poem is a closet drama written in 1816–1817 by Lord Byron. It contains supernatural elements, in keeping with the popularity of the ghost story in England at the time. It is a typical example of a Gothic fiction.

In 1843 he submitted work to the Westminster Cartoon Competition, for compositions to decorate the new Palace of Westminster. His entry, The Body of Harold Brought before William, was not successful. His early works were, however, greatly admired by the young Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who asked him to become his tutor. Through Rossetti, Brown came into contact with the artists who went on to form the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Though closely linked to them, he was never actually a member of the brotherhood itself, but adopted the bright colours and realistic style of William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. He was also influenced by the works of Holbein that he saw in Basel in 1845, and by Friedrich Overbeck and Peter Cornelius, whom he met in Rome in 1845-46.

Palace of Westminster Meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom,

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti English poet, illustrator, painter and translator

Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, generally known as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was a British poet, illustrator, painter and translator, and a member of the Rossetti family. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Rossetti was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement, most notably William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member "brotherhood". Their principles were shared by other artists, including Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman. A later, medievalising strain inspired by Rossetti included Edward Burne-Jones and extended into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse.

Brown struggled to make his mark in the 1850s, with his paintings failing to find buyers, and he considered emigrating to India. In 1852 he started work on two of his most significant works.

One of his most famous images is The Last of England , painted from 1852 to 1855, which was sold in March 1859 for 325 Guineas [3] (2010: £26,700). It depicts a pair of stricken emigrants as they sail away on the ship that will take them from England forever. It was inspired by the departure of the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner, who had left for Australia. In an unusual tondo format, the painting is structured with Brown's characteristic linear energy, and emphasis on apparently grotesque and banal details, such as the cabbages hanging from the ship's side. The husband and wife are portraits of Brown and his second wife Emma.

Brown's Jacob and Joseph's Coat at Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico Ford Madox Brown - The Coat of Many Colours - Google Art Project.jpg
Brown's Jacob and Joseph's Coat at Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico

Brown's most important painting was Work (1852–1865), begun in Hampstead in 1852 and which he showed at his retrospective exhibition in 1865. Thomas Plint advanced funds to enable Brown to complete the work, in anticipation of obtaining the finished painting, but died in 1861 before the painting had been completed. [4] In this painting, Brown attempted to depict the totality of the mid-Victorian social experience in a single image, depicting 'navvies' digging up a road (Heath Street in Hampstead, north London) and disrupting the old social hierarchies as they did so. The image erupts into proliferating details from the dynamic centre of the action, as the workers tear a hole in the road – and, symbolically, in the social fabric. Each character represents a particular social class and role in the modern urban environment.

Brown wrote a catalogue to accompany the special exhibition of Work. This publication included an extensive explanation of Work that nevertheless leaves many questions unanswered. Brown's concern with the social issues addressed in Work prompted him to open a soup kitchen for Manchester's hungry, and to attempt to aid the city's unemployed to find work by founding a labour exchange. [5] [6]

Brown found patrons in the north of England, including Plint, George Rae from Birkenhead, [7] John Miller from Liverpool, and James Leathart from Newcastle. By the late 1850s he had lost patience with the poor reception he received at the Royal Academy and ceased to show his works there, rejecting an offer from Millais to support his becoming an associate member. He founded the Hogarth Club in 1858, with William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, and his former pupil Rossetti. After a successful period of a few years, the club reached over 80 members, including several prominent members of the Royal Academy, but Brown resigned in 1860, and the club collapsed in 1861.

From the 1860s, Brown also designed furniture and stained glass. He was a founder partner of William Morris's design company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., in 1861, which dissolved in 1874 with Morris continuing on his own. He was a close friend of the landscape artist Henry Mark Anthony.

Brown's major achievement after Work was The Manchester Murals , a cycle of twelve paintings in the Great Hall of Manchester Town Hall depicting the history of the city. Brown would be 72 by the time he finished the murals. In total, he took six years perfecting the murals, which were his last major work. [8]


Family

The Bromley Family. Brown's first wife Elizabeth, lower right, 1844 The Bromley Family.jpg
The Bromley Family. Brown's first wife Elizabeth, lower right, 1844

Ford Madox Brown was married twice. His first wife Elizabeth Bromley was his first cousin, the daughter of his mother's sister Mary. They were married in Meopham in Kent in April 1841, shortly before his 20th birthday and less than a year after the sudden death of his sister Elizabeth. They lived in Montmartre in 1841 with Brown's invalid father who died the following summer.

Their first child died young as an infant in November 1842. Their daughter Emma Lucy was born in 1843 and the family moved back to England in 1844. They travelled to Rome in 1845 to alleviate the illness of his wife, who was suffering from consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). She died in Paris in June 1846, aged 27, on the journey back to England from Rome.

Emma Hill became a frequent model for Brown from 1848; for example, she is the wife in The Last of England . She became his mistress, and they shared a house in London, but social convention made him unable to marry an illiterate daughter of a bricklayer. Their daughter Catherine Emily was born in 1850, and eventually they were married at St Dunstan-in-the-West in April 1853.

Their son, Oliver Madox Brown (1855–1874) (known as Nolly) showed promise both as an artist and poet, but died of blood poisoning before his maturity. The death of Nolly was a crushing blow for Brown, and he kept a room for his son's belongings as a shrine. Another son Arthur was born in September 1856. Brown used Arthur as the model for the baby held by a ragged girl in the foreground of Work, but he died aged only ten months old in July 1857.

Pretty Baa-Lambs. Brown's mistress and later wife Emma and second daughter Cathy in 1851 Ford Madox Brown - Pretty Baa-Lambs - Google Art Project.jpg
Pretty Baa-Lambs. Brown's mistress and later wife Emma and second daughter Cathy in 1851

His daughters Lucy and Catherine were also competent artists. Lucy married William Michael Rossetti in 1874. Catherine, married Francis Hueffer; through Catherine, Brown was the grandfather of novelist Ford Madox Ford and great-grandfather of Labour Home Secretary Frank Soskice.

Death

Brown's second wife died in October 1890, and he died in Primrose Hill, north London, in 1893. He is buried in the St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley. [9] He was given a secular funeral, and the funeral oration was delivered by the American Moncure D. Conway, the secularist after whom Conway Hall was later named. [10]

Heritage

The J D Wetherspoon pub in Oxford Road, Manchester is named after Ford Madox Brown. [11] It states on the Wetherspoon's website that "This J D Wetherspoon pub is named after the much-travelled artist Ford Madox Brown, a one-time resident of Victoria Park, a suburb south of the pub." The pub opened in 2007.

See also

Work Ford Madox Brown - Work - artchive.com.jpg
Work

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References

  1. "Ford Madox Brown", 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica .
  2. Tate.org
  3. Sale of Valuable Pictures, The Times , 28 March 1859
  4. Dianne Sachko Macleod, ‘Plint, Thomas Edward (1823–1861)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  5. Fiona MacCarthy (31 August 2012). "Why the pre-Raphaelites were the YBAs of their day". The Guardian . Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  6. "Biography of Ford Madox Brown-Social conscience". Manchester Art Gallery. 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  7. "George Rae, 1817-1902". University of Glasgow . Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  8. Hughes, Kathryn (16 September 2011). "Ford Madox Brown: pre-Raphaelite pioneer and working-class hero". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  9. "St Pancras Cemetery".
  10. TLS (8/10/2008).
  11. "The Ford Madox Brown, Manchester | Our Pubs". J D Wetherspoon. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2012.

Sources

External video
Ragamuffins.JPG
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Pre-Raphaelites: Curator's choice – Ford Madox Brown's Work, Tate Gallery