The Prisoner of Chillon

Ford Madox Brown


Wood engraving by the Dalziels

4 15/16 x 4 11/16 inches

An illustration for Byron’s poem, in R. A. Willmott’s The Poets of the Nineteenth Century, p. 111.

Pre-Raphaelite horror, or verisimilitude in the service of Gothic. The artist heightens his effects by deploying a Ruskinian version of the grotesque in which some elements are fearful and others ludicrous. The extreme unpleasantness of the decomposing body is juxtaposed to the grinning face and rough manner of the grave-digger; the agitation of the other characters is also heightened by contrasting it with the serenity of the figure half-glimpsed in the background, smoking a pipe. As in many Pre-Raphaelite illustrations, Brown deploys a Baroque spatial arrangement, projecting the body into the viewer’s space.

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