Monday, January 7, 2013

Infant's Repast - Study of a Mother and Child with separate Arm and Leg Studies of the Child 1848

This is one of three sheets of drawings in the collection for a small picture Brown painted in 1849 called 'Infant's repast' (see also 1906P678 and 1906P758). The surviving oil sketch for it is held at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton. Brown's diary records that he used Mrs Ashley and her baby as the model for his studies. On 26 and 30 October he wrote respectively: 'drew a study of childs head sucking' and 'worked 4 hours from Mrs Ashley & child, made drawing of the legs & arm etc' (Virginia Surtees, ed., 'The Diary of Ford Madox Brown,' p. 48).The main inspiration for the subject appears to have been Charles West Cope's painting 'The Young Mother' which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1846 (oil on panel, Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The two versions of the subject are small in size and share the same full length profile composition. In fact they are so similar that Brown must have seen it as an opportunity to out do an artistic rival and indulge in his love of eighteenth-century subjects, clothing the mother in period costume rather than contemporary dress.LM

Black chalk on paper.

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