Thursday, February 21, 2013
Ford Madox Brown's Work
Ford Madox Brown's most important painting was Work (1852-1965), which he showed at a special exhibition. It attempted to illustrate the totality of the mid-Victorian social experience in a single image, depicting 'navvies' digging up a road, and disrupting the old social hierarchies as they did so. The image erupts into proliferating details from the dynamic center of the action, as the workers tear a hole in the road – and, symbolically, in the social fabric. Each character represents a particular social class and role in the modern urban environment. Brown wrote a catalogue to accompany the special exhibition of Work.