The English Boy

Ford Madox Brown, 1821 - 1893

The English Boy

Ford Madox Brown 1821 - 1893


A three-quarter length portrait of Oliver Madox Brown, the artist’s eldest son, at the age of 5. The boy, who faces us directly, has blue eyes and a neutral expression. He wears a cream pinafore trimmed with white ribbon over a black and red-checked dress with red buttons at the collar and sleeves. He also wears a straw hat and his brown hair is cut bluntly to his shoulder. He holds a whip and a top in his hands. Behind the boy is a green wallpaper with a striped and patterned border visible on the left.

Display Label

Gallery text panel The Pre-Raphaelites in their Time Britain's first and best-known radical art movement emerged from within the Royal Academy in 1848. Its original members were rebellious art students who were disillusioned with contemporary practice. They looked back to Italian art before Raphael, seeing the pre-1500 period as one of great sincerity. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In an age of rapid industrial and urban expansion, Pre-Raphaelite artists like Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, and pioneering design reformers such as William Morris, sought a return to pre-industrial values of art and design in truth to nature and materials, and good workmanship. In addition, the arts of the Middle Ages and Middle East were important sources of stylistic inspiration. The Bible, literature and contemporary life were preferred over subjects derived from classical mythology. The Brotherhood also rejected contrived studio lighting and took canvases outside to paint directly from nature. Although attempting to convey exactly what they saw, they created a heightened reality of dream-like intensity with minute details and bright, dazzling colours. Their art was a new kind of history painting for a new age.

Object Name

The English Boy

Creators Name

Ford Madox Brown

Date Created



unframed: 39.6cm x 33.3cm
framed: 57cm x 51.7cm

accession number


Place of creation

United Kingdom




Oil paint


Bequeathed by Mr C P Scott


© Manchester Art Gallery

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