ord Madox Brown was significantly older than the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which formed in 1848, but despite this difference of generation and experience he was a most important figure in the wider context of Pre-Raphaelitism, and one who was revered by each of the P.R.B. protagonists, Rossetti, Holman Hunt and Millais. Brown was born in France and brought up in Belgium. He received a conventional academic art education in various studios and subsequently at the Antwerp Academy. His knowledge of painting, both past and contemporary, was considerable; in this respect he was different to most other British painters of the Age.
Brown settled in London in 1844 and gradually his style changed in favour of a realistic representation of figures and landscape, with the use of clear, strong colours and effects of daylight. In 1848 Rossetti approached Brown for instruction and from this point on friendly relations and mutual exchange of influence occured between Brown and each of the Pre- Raphael ite s. Brown's two paintings Work and The Last of England were both begun in 1852 and were each worked on by him for very long periods. As well as being his personal masterpieces they are both amongst the greatest paintings of the nineteenth century. In the 1860s Brown worked as an illustrator and as a designer of furniture and stained glass. He was involved from its inception in 1861 with the decorating firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co.
As a man Ford Madox Brown was prone to moods of despondency brought on in part by his lack of commercial success. in the 1860s he found a readier market for his work and in 1878 he was commissioned to paint a series of murals for Manchester Town Hall. This project was his major preoccupation throughout the last years of his life.
- “Curious crotchets:” Ford Madox Brown's disappointments and character
- Ford Madox Brown becomes a Pre-Raphaelite convert
- Hunt on Brown's mistreatment by the art establishment and his final years
Newall, Christopher. A Celebration of British and European Painting of the 19th and 20th Centuries. London: Peter Nahum, nd [1999?].
Last modified 25 October 2012