Monday, 24 October 2011

Ford Madox Brown at Manchester Art Gallery

Currently being exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery until January 29th 2012, Ford Madox Brown, Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer is an extensive overview of the only artist to have a pub named after him in Manchester (edit: there's also The Rembrandt on Sackville Street. Thanks to Mr. Joe Hodgkinson for the correction). I have to hold my hand up and say that I wasn't overly familiar with his life and work prior to visiting the exhibition, so it was interesting to see so much brought together and be able to follow his progression across the 10 sections covering different aspects of his artistic career.

Ford Madox Brown - Work

 His large-scale pieces are incredibly busy, full of life with people captured in all manner of poses and actions - there's 40 plus alone in Work. These pieces remind me a little of the 3000 piece cartoon jigsaws I used to get at Christmas – There’s so much going on and so many little details, it’s tricky to appreciate the composition as a whole when viewed in person.

Ford Madox Brown - The English Boy

My personal preference is for his smaller pieces and drawings. There’s an incredible intensity to Millie Smith and The English Boy, both of which feature small children staring out of the canvas, gazing directly at viewer. Also, the realism of Oliver Madox Brown as a baby is quite astonishing to behold.

I'm extremely curious now to pay a visit to the town hall to see his Manchester murals - It feels like the exhibition isn't really complete without seeing these twelve epic paintings depicting the history of the city on which Ford Madox laboured over the last 14 years of his life, forever associating his name with this city.

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