Ford Madox Brown was a highly individual artist. Though many influences exerted themselves on his work during his long career, he knew his own mind and always went his own way. Even before the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848, he developed a new style influenced by the art of the period before Raphael. He painted Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces without ever wanting to join the brotherhood. His meticulously observed landscapes anticipated the open-air effects of the Impressionists. He opposed academic systems and conventional Victorian formulae. He portrayed children and the poor without sentiment or paternalism. In his masterly, life-like scenes from modern life, The Last of England and Work, he combined intense realism with original vision and social and political commitment. His radical sympathies were also channelled into his battle against unemployment in Manchester. Closely involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement, he designed numerous stained-glass windows and items of furniture. With his murals for Manchester Town Hall he gave new meaning and form to art in public buildings.
This beautifully illustrated publication covers all Browns important works. They are discussed in an expert yet accessible way by Julian Treuherz, an authority on Victorian art, who also wrote the introductory essay on the eventful life of this intriguing artist.