The Bromley Children
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Ford Madox Brown
Ford Madox Brown was born April 16, 1821 in Calais, France to British parents and died in October 1893 in London. He was a British painter of historic scenes, religious subjects and portraits. He also worked in watercolor and produced drawings and is considered a Symbolist. During his childhood he showed a disposition for drawing. He worked in several art centers of Europe including Bruges, Gand, and Antwerp. In Antwerp he became the student of Baron Wappers, a student of David. Several successive tragedies plagued Brown's life at the start of his career, beginning with the death of his mother, then the death of his sister, and finally the death of his father. In 1845 his wife persuaded him to leave Paris where he had lived for four years and move to Italy. Less than a year later, she wanted to return to Calais. She died on her way traveling to Paris. In Rome, Brown was introduced to the German painters, Cornelius and Overbeck. Then while in Bale, he felt a profound emotional response before paintings produced by Holbein. Inspired by his work, Brown decided he would like to become the Holbein of the 19th Century. Around 1847, Brown established himself in England. His works submitted to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy were either refused or placed in unfavorable conditions in the exhibition. His tendency to be a misanthrope heightened. Then, he received a letter from Gabriel Rossetti, who expressed a desire to become Brown's student. This meeting was precious to both artists, and it can be said that the date 1848 marked the beginning of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. It was after this meeting that Brown painted Work (1852-1863), and The Last of England (1852-1855), which reflect his socio-Christian preoccupation. Brown remarked that after 1855 his material existence was sustained by his artistic work. Ten years later Brown's inclusion in a private exhibition in London, affirmed his situation as one of the forerunners of the new school. Finally in 1878 he was commissioned to do the decoration for the Manchester City Hall, which proved to be the crowning achievement of his career.
Members of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood were influenced by Ford Madox Brown's essentially English work, which often referred to a German vision of Van Eyck, Metsys, Rogier van der Weyden, and Memling. Ford Madox Brown's work is included in museums in Birmingham, Liverpool, London (Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Galley), Manchester, Melbourne, and Sydney.
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