Ford Madox Brown
- Extended catalogue entry
Ford Madox Brown
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Pencil on wove paper, 1852
6 3/4 in. x 4 1/2 in. (171 mm x 114 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Signed in monogram lower right: ‘DGR’;
dated lower right: ‘Nov / 52’.
This portraitback to top
In March 1848 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, then at the Royal Academy Schools, wrote to Ford Madox Brown, his senior by seven years, asking to become his pupil.  Brown agreed and gave him free ‘assistance’ in his Clipstone Street studio. The arrangement did not last long and Rossetti, discouraged by Brown’s disciplinary methods, moved to William Holman Hunt’s studio in August. 
A few years later, in May 1851, Brown invited Rossetti to share his studio at 17 Newman Street. Their differences made it stressful – for Brown at least:
During the winter I painted the study from Emma with the head back laughing [Take your Son, Sir!] at night in Newman Street. All this while Rossetti was staying at Newman St with me – keeping me up talking till 4 A.M., painting sometimes all night making the whole place miserable and filthy, translating sonnets at breakfast working very hard & doing nothing. 
This second arrangement came to an end in June 1852 when Brown gave up Newman Street. In November – the date of NPG 1021 – Rossetti moved into rooms of his own at 14 Chatham Place, Blackfriars Bridge. The two artists appear to have parted on friendly terms as evidenced in Rossetti’s correspondence but, disappointingly, Rossetti makes no reference to drawing Brown’s portrait. 
For other drawings of Brown by Rossetti see ‘All known portraits, By other artists, ?1850s’ and ‘c.1867’. 
NPG 1021 was offered as a gift to the NPG by William Michael Rossetti two years after Brown’s death in 1895. 
Footnotesback to top
1) ‘... Rossetti called, the latter my first pupil. Curious enough he wrote to ask me to give him lessons, from his opinion of my high Talents knew every work I had exhibited & all about – will see what we can make of him’; Surtees 1981, p.36 (25 Mar. 1848); see Surtees 1981, Appendix I for Rossetti’s letter to Brown.
2) Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, pp.58–9.
3) Surtees 1981, p.78 (16 Aug. 1854).
4) Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, pp.205–16.
5) The reference in Barringer 2004 to an 1852 drawing of Brown by Rossetti in the V&A is erroneous.
6) ‘I find strong indications that since his death his renown increases very fast both in England & abroad’: letter from W.M. Rossetti to Lionel Cust, 24 Sept. 1895, NPG RP 1021. W.M. Rossetti was Dante Gabriel’s brother and Brown’s son-in-law.
Physical descriptionback to top
Head-and-shoulders, three-quarters to right, eyes to viewer.
Conservationback to top
Provenanceback to top
William Michael Rossetti, presented by him to the NPG 1895.
Exhibitionsback to top
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Painter and Poet, Royal Academy, London, 1973 (41).
Pre-Raphaelites, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, 1973–4 (92).
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo; Aichi Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya; and Ishibashi Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation, Kurume, 1990–91 (121).
Christina Rossetti, NPG, London, 1994–5 (no cat).
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; and Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2003–4 (18).
The Pre-Raphaelites, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2009 (5).
Reproductionsback to top
Surtees 1971, pl.397.
Surtees 1981, p.73.
Walker 2006, p.14.
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.