Ford Madox Brown
(6 April 1821 - 6 October 1893)
His best-known picture, The Last of England (City Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1855) was inspired by the departure of Woolner, the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor, for Australia. The other famous anthology piece that Brown painted, Work (Manchester City Art Gallery, 1852-63), shows his dedicated craftsmanship and brilliant coloring, but is somewhat swamped by its social idealism. In 1861 Brown was a founder member of William Morris's company, for which he designed stained glass and furniture. The major work of the later part of his career is a cycle of paintings (1878-93) in Manchester Town Hall on the history of the city. Brown was an individualist and a man of prickly temperament; he opposed the Royal Academy and was a pioneer of the one-man show.
While at first well received, his work gained little public recognition in the 1850s and the influential Ruskin was antagonistic. In 1853 he married Emma Hill who appears in his two greatest paintings ‘The Last of England’, now in Birmingham Art Gallery, and ‘Work’, now in Manchester Art Gallery.
In 1861 he was a founder-member of the decorating firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company, for which he designed some furniture and many stained-glass cartoons, until its re-arrangement as Morris and Co. in 1875. These were influential on his later manner which saw a return to his earlier historical approach combined with a looser more decorative style. b Calais, 16 April 1821; d London, 6 Oct 1893