Madox Brown, Ford

BORN 16 Apr 1821, Calais - DIED 11 Oct 1893, London: St. Edmund's Terrace, Primrose Hill
GRAVE LOCATION London: St. Pancras and Islington Cemetery and Islington Crematorium, 278 High Road, East Finchley (on the hill behind the Mond mausoleum)

Grandson of the medical theorist John Brown, who invented the Brunonian system of medicine. His father seved in the Navy. His mother Caroline Madox came from Kent. They married in 1818. Ford Brown had left the navy after the Napoleontic Wars and to save expenses they moved to Calais. There a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Ford Madox Brown, were born.

His father initially wanted him to join the navy but after his artistic talents became clear he studied in Belgium uder Pierre van Hanselaer and Egide Charles Gustave Wappers from 1837 onwards. His mother died in 1839 and his sister in 1840.

He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840 and his niece Elisabeth Bromley modelled for "The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots". They married and lived at Montmartre, together with his father who died in 1842. In 1843 his daughter Emma Lucy was born. During the 1840s his work was admired by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and he was close with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood but never a member. In 1845 the family travelled to Rome because Elisabeth suffered from consumption. In Rome he met Peter Cornelius and he was influenced by Cornelius' style. Elisabeth died in 1846 in Paris on their way back to England, aged only 27.

From 1848 onwards young Emma Hill frequently modelled for him. She became his lover and they had a daughter, Catherine Emma, in 1850. In 1853 they married and they lived in Finchley, London. A son, Oliver Madox Brown, followed. He had a talent for painting and for poetry but he died of blood poisoning in 1874. Another son, Arthur, was born in 1856 but he died in 1857.

During the 1850s Madox Brown found it hard to sell his paintings. "The Last of England" (1852-1855) was finally sold in 1859. In Hampstead he started on his painting "Work" in 1852. It was commissioned by Thomas Plint but Plint died in 1861 before it was finished in 1865.

In 1858 he founded the Hogarth Clun together with Rossetti, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, but in 1860 he resigned from the club. During the 1860s he also desginded furniture and stained glass and he worked for Morris' company. In 1864 he fell desperately in love with his beautiful tall pupil Marie Spartali. Her father Michael Spartali, the rich consul of Greece, had asked Dante Gabriel Rossetti to give her painting lessons but Rossetti wasn't fond of having pupils around. Only after he had referred him to his friend Madox Brown he realised that this was the stunning woman that he had heard talking about. But Marie loved the manipulating widower William Stillman and after much resistance from her parents she married him. Madox Brown never spoke his mind and she continued to see him as her teacher and advisor.

His last work of importance were the "Manchester Murals" for the Great Hall of Manchester Town Hall. They took six years and he died not long after he finished them (his wife Emma had died in 1890). His funeral was secular and the oration was spoken by Moncure D. Conway.

• Daughter: Madox Brown, Lucy
• Son: Brown, Oliver Madox
• Wife: Hill, Emma (1853-1890, London: St Dunstan-in-the-West)
• Wife: Bromley, Elizabeth (1841-1846, Meopham, Kent)

Related persons
• supported Blind, Mathilde
• designed grave monument of Bromley, Elizabeth
• met Cornelius, Peter von
• has a connection with Hughes, Arthur
• was a friend of Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
• knew Smetham, James
• was teacher of Spartali Stillman, Marie
• was pupil of Wappers, Gustave

10/2/1862Lizzie Siddal takes a deathly dose of laudanum. She, her husband Gabriel Dante Rosseti and Algernon Swinburne had dined at the Sabloniere Hotel on Leicester Square. After the dinner Rossetti went to Working Men's Institute where he was a teacher and Lizzie went home. When he returned home at 11 pm she was unconscious and the empty laudanum bottle was at the side of her bed. There was a note on her nightgown. Her stomach was pumped but it was too late and she died early in the morning. The note was destroyed by Ford Madox Brown and its contents were never known. [Rossetti, Dante Gabriel][Siddal, Elizabeth]


The grave of Ford Madox Brown at the St. Pancras and Islington Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (27 May 2014)


The grave of Ford Madox Brown at St. Pancras and Islington Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (27 May 2014)


"The Last of England".
   (1855, Birmingham: City Museum and Art Gallery)

• Jones, Kathleen, Learning not to be first, the Life of Christina Rossetti, The Windrush Press, Gloucestershire, 1991
• Thirlwell, Angela, Into the Frame, The Four Loves of Ford Madox Brown, Chatto & Windus, London, 2010
Ford Madox Brown - Wikipedia

Madox Brown, Lucy

Published: 06 Jul 2014
Last update: 01 Apr 2022