Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer

Wednesday 29th June 2011

Ford Madox Brown, Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer

First major Ford Madox Brown exhibition since 1964
Masterpieces on display include Work and The Last of England. Manchester Town Hall Murals open to the public

From 24 September 2011, Manchester Art Gallery will stage the first major exhibition of Ford Madox Brown’s work since 1964. Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer will bring together 140 works from public and private collections to reveal the pioneering role Ford Madox Brown played in the development of Pre-Raphaelitism and explore how the artist’s rebellion against traditionally taught methods led to a completely radical new style.

The exhibition’s painting highlights include Brown’s masterpieces Work (1852 – 63) and The Last of England (1852 – 55), which have been brought together for the first time for over twenty-five years. Work, acquired in 1885, was the first Pre-Raphaelite painting bought by Manchester Art Gallery and will be shown alongside a selection of rarely displayed preparatory studies. These epic paintings are unique in Victorian art as they feature social and political themes. Painted with extraordinarily realistic details, these works demonstrate Brown’s anti-academic attitude and his strikingly unsentimental approach to portraying the social problems of the age.

The exhibition examines the six years that Brown lived in Manchester, a city in which he was actively involved in both artistic and social issues. Related works on display include portraits of Brown’s friends in the city and studies for his huge decorative paintings for the Royal Manchester Jubilee exhibition of 1887. The culmination of Brown’s career came with the commission to paint the Manchester Town Hall murals, which he completed in 1893. Original studies for the murals will be on show in the exhibition and exceptional access to the twelve murals has been granted to The Great Hall in Manchester Town Hall for the period of the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Julian Treuherz, former Director of the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, and an expert in Victorian art. Divided into eleven themes, the show starts with Brown’s early career before moving on to look at his radical change of direction following an influential trip to Italy, which anticipated the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood in 1848.

Throughout, the exhibition celebrates the extraordinary breadth of Brown’s artistic practice, displaying his skills as a draughtsman, a narrative painter, a portrait artist, a designer of furniture and stained glass, and an innovative landscape painter of works such as The Pretty Baa Lambs (1851 – 59), a painting which was groundbreaking for being painted entirely in the open air and even anticipated the French Impressionist movement.

Director of Manchester City Galleries and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Dr Maria Balshaw says:

“Ford Madox Brown’s work is bound up with the history of Manchester as a city of radicalism. His belief in the power of art and labour resonates with Manchester’s contemporary support for culture and the arts. The exhibition will be a unique Manchester experience.”

Exhibition: Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer

Dates: 24 September 2011 – 29 January 2012

Press View: 22 September 2011

Venue: Manchester Art Gallery; open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm.

Entry: £8 / £6 concessions / Under 18s and Manchester Art Gallery Friends/Patrons go free

Ticket booking:

Catalogue: £19.95 Published by Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., available to buy in the Manchester Art Gallery shop and online:

Touring: Manchester Art Gallery is the only UK venue for the exhibition. It will then tour to The Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent from 25 February to 3 June 2012.


For press enquiries and images please contact:

Catherine McClelland, Sutton PR
Tel: +44 (0)207 183 3577

Rachel Fitzgerald, Press Manager, Manchester Art Gallery - (Tues Weds Thurs)
Tel: +44 (0)161 235 8861

Pauline Minsky, Design Manager
Tel: +44 (0)161 235 88628

Notes to Editors

Manchester Art Gallery

Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer builds on the success of Manchester Art Gallery’s series of exhibitions which have reassessed the cultural history of the 19th century through its art: Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists, Black Victorians, Art Treasures in Manchester, and Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision.

From summer 2011, Manchester Art Gallery will also be showing a HLF funded display of works from the permanent collection called The Pre-Raphaelite Experiment, which invites the public to focus closely on four pictures from the Gallery's Pre-Raphaelite collection and involved themselves in re-interpreting this seminal movement. The display will also be accompanied by a programme of events, talks and tours (details to be confirmed).

Julian Treuherz

Curator Julian Treuherz has worked as Keeper of Fine Art at Manchester Art Gallery, and Keeper of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. He has curated many exhibitions in Manchester and Liverpool including Hard Times, Social Realism in Victorian Art (1987), Alma-Tadema (1996), Rossetti (2004) and Art in the Age of Steam (2008). He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Liverpool University in 2009.

Manchester Town Hall Murals

The Manchester Town Hall murals will be open to the public especially to coincide with Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer. Public access will be available from 10am – 5pm on the following Sundays throughout the exhibition:

25 September; 16 October, 23 October, 30 October, 6 November, 20 November, 4

December, 11 December, 18 December, 8 January, 15 January, 22 January, 29 January.

Additional dates are to be confirmed and full access details will be regularly updated on the Manchester Art Gallery website.

Supporters of the exhibition

Charles Stanley is the headline sponsor for Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer. 

Charles Stanley

The exhibition is supported by the Zochonis Charitable Trust and Manchester Art Gallery Trust.

Farrow & Ball are the official paint sponsor of Manchester City Galleries. 

Farrow & Ball