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A painter holding a palette and paint brushes faces toward the right, turning his head to look at us

A middle aged man sits in a chair facing right, wearing a stern expression as he looks over his shoulder at us. He has hazel eyes, fair skin and ruddy cheeks, thick sandy brown hair cropped below his ear, and a long, neatly brushed, chest length beard that flows down in front of his dark smock. He rests his right hand on the arm of the chair, and in his left hand he holds a wooden palette with colors on it, and a few paint brushes. Filling the background is a tall, golden brown folding screen with a pebbled texture and painted floral designs.

Gallery Text

Although never a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Brown was closely associated with the group. He represents himself in painting garb, with palette in hand. The artist’s “severe” countenance was said to have softened as he grew older; he is fifty-six here. A friend wrote that “it would have been very difficult to find a face of happier character, and one more genially benign, than he habitually carried in later life; and at the same time, its grand lines and heroic character only seemed to increase with age.” The painted and embossed leather screen, with “oriental” motifs, is European, inspired by Chinese lacquer originals.

Brown was a founding member of the firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company, which specialized in high-style decorative arts. When William Morris reorganized the company in 1875, Brown was dismissed. This portrait was made for Brown’s friend Theodore Watts-Dunton, the lawyer who represented him in the legal proceedings that ensued.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Ford Madox Brown, British (Calais, France 1821 - 1893 London, England)
Frame by M. Grieve Co.
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2120, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Lure of the East
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
76.2 x 64.1 cm (30 x 25 1/4 in.)
framed: 94 x 81.3 x 7.6 cm (37 x 32 x 3 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: u.l.: FMB [in monogram] - 77
  • label: backing board, white paper with blue ink, printed and typed: XIXth Biennial International Art Exhibition - Venice 1934/
    Owned by Mrs. Watts dunton (typed)
  • label: backing board, white paper with black ink, handwritten and printed: Partial label:
    "...ord exhibition 19..." (handwritten)
    Lent by T. Watts Dunton (printed)
  • label: backing board, blue paper and black ink, printed: City of Manchester Art Gallery Autumn Exhibition 1911
    (title and artist typed)
  • label: backing board, white paper with black ink, printed: Charles Roberson & Co.... /Manufacturers of water and oil colours/Materials for drawing and painting/ 99, Long Acre, London


Recorded Ownership History
Painted as a gift for Theodore Watts-Dunton 1877; inherited by his wife Clara Watts-Dunton, 1914, sold; [through Sotheby’s, London, March 22, 1939, lot 43, £520]; [to Barbizon House, London.] Martin Birnbaum for Grenville L. Winthrop (1939-1943), bequeathed; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.

1. The names of Barbizon House and Legatt (another London dealer) are both inscribed in the margins next to lot 43 in the microfiche copy of the Sotheby’s March 22, 1939 catalogue.
2. Grenville L. Winthrop’s records do not provide any information about where Martin Birnbaum purchased this painting in 1939.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • Pall Mall Gazette, 12 April, 1890, 1890, p. 2
  • Ford Madox Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown: A Record of His Life and Works, Longmans, Green and Co. (New York, NY and London, England, 1896), pp. 69-70, 311-313, 442 (list) repr. on frontispiece
  • Helen Zimmern, "Ford Madox Brown", The Emporium (1897), vol. VI, pp. 322-339, p. 323, repr. p. 323
  • Official Souvenir of the City of Bradford Cartwright Memorial Hall Inaugural Exhibition, exh. cat., H. M. Trotter & Co. (Bradford, England, 1904), no. 97
  • James Douglas, Theodore Watts-Dunton: Poet, Novelist Critic, John Lane (London, England, 1904), pp. 274-276
  • Richard Muther, The History of Modern Painting, J. M. Dent & Co./E. P. Dutton & Co. (London, England and New York, NY, 1907), v. III, p. 10, repr.
  • Collected Works of Ford Madox Brown, exh. cat., Leicester Galleries (London, England, 1909), no. 17, repr. on frontispiece
  • Charles Rowley, Fifty Years of Work without Wages (Laborare est Orare), Hodder and Stoughton (London, England and New York, NY, 1911), p. 93
  • Loan exhibition of works by Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites, exh. cat., Manchester City Art Gallery (Manchester, England, 1911), no. 60, p. 13
  • Thomas Hake and Arthur Compton-Rickett, The Life and Letters of Theodore Watts-Dunton (London, England, 1916), vol. 2, p. 269
  • William Rothenstein, Men and memories; recollections of William Rothenstein, Coward McCann (New York, NY, 1931 - 1940), p. 231
  • Catalogue of Artistic and Literary Property...of Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton, auct. cat., Sotheby (London, England, March 23, 1939), no. 43, repr. opposite p. 11
  • Paintings and Drawings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), no. 1, pp. 19-20
  • Kerrison Preston, ed., Letters from Graham Robertson, H. Hamilton (London, 1955), pp. 271, 405, 417-418
  • The Self-Portrait, 1850-1950, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1959), checklist, p. 5
  • Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Ford Madox Brown 1821-1893, exh. cat., Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (Liverpool, England, 1964), mentioned p. 12
  • Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), p. 124, cat. 89, ill. p. 125
  • "Band of Brothers", The Christian Science Monitor (November 30, 1973), repr.
  • Ann Philips, "When Women Were 'Blessed Damsels'", Cambridge Chronicle (January 25 1973)
  • Julian Treuherz, "Ford Madox Brown and the Manchester Murals", Art and Architecture in Victorian Manchester, ed. John H. G. Archer, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England, 1985), repr. in b/w no. 72, p. 163
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 78, color plate; pp. 100, 159, repr. b/w cat. no. 74
  • Teresa Newman and Ray Watkinson, Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle, Chatto & Windus (London, England, 1991), p. 175; repr. in color on frontispiece
  • Kenneth Bendiner, The Art of Ford Madox Brown, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA, 1998), p. 78; repr. in b/w, fig. 65
  • Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), no. 153, pp. 356-358, repr. in color
  • Christopher Riopelle, Harvard's Winthrop Collection: Nineteenth-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, exh. cat., National Gallery Company Limited (London, 2003), p. 18, cat. 5, ill.
  • Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 153, pp. 368-370, repr. in color
  • H. G. C. Matthew, ed., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, England, 2004), vol. 8, p. 24, ill.
  • Pierre Rosenberg, Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections, Skira (Milan, 2006), repr. on p. 174
  • Mary Bennett, Ford Madox Brown, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, 2010), vol. 2, pp. 382-383 as cat. no. B33, repr.

Exhibition History

  • Liverpool Autumn Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Liverpool, 01/01/1881 - 12/31/1881
  • Exhibition of "Kay's Loom" and Other Paintings by Ford Madox Brown, Dowdeswell Gallery, London, 04/01/1890 - 04/30/1890
  • Exhibition of the Works of Ford Madox Brown, Grafton Galleries, London, 01/01/1897 - 12/31/1897
  • City of Bradford Cartwright Memorial Hall Inaugural Exhibition, Cartwright Memorial Hall, Bradford, 05/04/1904 - 10/31/1904
  • Collected Works of Ford Madox Brown, Leicester Galleries, London, 06/01/1909 - 07/31/1909
  • Loan Exhibition of Works by Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, 09/14/1911 - 11/30/1911
  • XIXa esposizione biennale internazionale d'arte (Venice Bienniale), Palazzo Centrale, Venice, 05/01/1934 - 10/31/1934
  • Paintings and Drawings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/08/1946 - 06/01/1946
  • The Self-Portrait, 1850-1950, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/01/1950 - 12/31/1950
  • The Self-Portrait, 1850-1950, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/01/1959 - 05/31/1959
  • Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/23/1969 - 03/31/1969
  • Pre-Raphaelite and Early French Symbolist Art in the Fogg Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/16/1973 - 02/25/1973
  • Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
  • The Pre-Raphaelites: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/04/1980 - 07/15/1980
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Centennial Exhibition from the Harvard Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 07/12/1982 - 09/11/1982
  • A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004
  • For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004
  • Re-View: S424-426 Western Art from 1560 to 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 2120 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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