A study of 'Arthur Madox Brown, age nine months', 1857, Ford Madox Brown
12cm x 9.8cm
Accession Number WAG10510
This is one of five studies drawn between 1847 and 1857 depict Madox Brown’s four children. They are part of a substantial group of drawings of his children made for personal record and also as studies for future paintings.
There are two studies of Arthur Gabriel, Madox Brown’s second son born in September 1856. The first shows him as a plump, sleeping, new-born baby, drawn apparently as a pendant to the earlier drawing of Oliver. The second (above), in the oval mount, shows him aged nine months.
This is a study of the baby held by the ragged girl in the centre foreground of 'Work'. Brown’s epic painting of Victorian life shows work in different aspects: the labourers exemplifying work, the rich who have no need to work and the poor who are out of work. The group of ragged children is at the bottom of the social scale: their mother being dead, the eldest girl has to look after them.
The artist began painting his baby son Arthur for the picture the day he was taken ill. He died of a brain infection, but Brown still included him in his oil painting. He changed the red ribbons to black to signify that in the picture he was motherless.
The oil painting 'Work' by Ford Madox Brown, 1852-63, can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery.