BROWN, Ford Madox
(b. 1821, Calais, d. 1893, London)


English painter, born in Calais, and studied in Belgium, Paris (1840-44) and Rome (1845-46). In Rome he met Overbeck and other Nazarene artists, and was strongly influenced by their use of clear colour and medieval subject matter, which reinforced the teaching he had received in Belgium. He went to England in 1846, and his Wycliffe (Bradford, with preparatory sketch) of 1847-48 so impressed Rossetti that he asked to become his pupil. This brought Brown into the orbit of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Although he never became a member of the Brotherhood he had much in common with them, notably painting out of doors and developing an interest in contemporary genre subjects, such as his evocative The Last of England (1852-55, Birmingham), inspired by the emigration to the Colonies in the mid-19th century.

In 1852-65 he executed the large Work for Manchester Town Hall, saying of it: 'The British excavator ... in the full swing of his activity ... appeared to me ... at least as worthy of the powers of an English painter as the fisherman of the Adriatic, the peasant of the Campagna, or the Neapolitan lazzarone.' There are other works in Liverpool, London (Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum), Melbourne, Sydney (Chaucer Reading His Poems to Edward III, one of the several versions of his painting for the Houses of Parliament, 1848 onwards) and Yale.