Thursday, 16 April 2015

Brown, Grandson and Grandfather

Above is Manfred on the Jungfrau, a typically understated early picture by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, who was born on this day in 1821. His typical works are characterised by energy and drama, strong clear light, flat perspective and an intense focus on sometimes grotesque detail (indeed some of his work can, at a glance, look almost like Richard Dadd). Fittingly, Brown's best-known painting is the strenuous and morally charged Work, followed perhaps by that morose tondo The Last of England. For myself, I prefer Brown in more relaxed mood, in landscapes such as Carrying Corn, The Hayfield and An English Autumn Afternoon...
Ford Madox Brown was the grandson of John Brown, originator of the Brunonian System of medicine, which was briefly a major force in medical theory, at least on the Continent. Its basic idea, roughly speaking, was that all medicine was a matter of stimulation or sedation - and his system favoured stimulation. Ford Madox Brown was also the grandfather of Ford Madox Hueffer, who became Ford Madox Ford, and who definitely favoured stimulation.