Manchester Art Gallery

Unfinished Study for 'John Kay, Inventor of the Fly Shuttle, 1753'

Ford Madox Brown, 1821 - 1893



Unfinished Study for 'John Kay, Inventor of the Fly Shuttle, 1753'

Ford Madox Brown 1821 - 1893

Summary

Unfinished work showing John Kay being smuggled out of his house, wrapped in a wool sheet to escape a mob of machine breakers. On the right, two men and a woman (unfinished) wrap him in the sheet whilst two young girls, further right, look on in distress. Through an open door, behind the girls, a man can be seen waiting with cart and horse ready to take him away. On the left, behind a bare white unfinished panel in shape of the loom, mobsters can be seen through the windows, armed with pitchforks.

Display Label

Unfinished Study for 'John Kay, Inventor of the Fly Shuttle AD1753’ 1888 This is a study for Brown’s tenth mural in Manchester Town Hall. It features a prototype modern crowd (through the window). John Kay’s invention of a fly shuttle meant looms only needed one person to operate them, not two. In this fictional scene unemployment beckons, and the weavers riot, so Kay’s family smuggle him out in a sheet. Kay, his wife, and the loom are unfinished here. Brown’s choice of subject is weird, even subversive. Working Mancunians have the industrial revolution imposed upon them. They don’t fight for change, but for things to stay the same.


Object Name

Unfinished Study for 'John Kay, Inventor of the Fly Shuttle, 1753'

Creators Name

Ford Madox Brown

Date Created

1888

Dimensions

unframed: 35.4cm x 78.8cm
framed: 48.2cm x 89.7cm

accession number

1947.81

Collection Group

fine art
painting
British

Place of creation

Manchester

Support

Panel

Medium

tempera

Credit

George Beatson Blair bequest, 1941.

Legal

© Manchester Art Gallery


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