Friday, August 28, 2009

Ford Madox Brown - Pretty Baa-Lambs

oil on panel
inscribed F Madox Brown. 52

The Pre-Raphaelite passion for accurate observation brought artists into the open air with their paint and canvas. Brown began the original Baa-lambs, of which this is a variant, in 1851, posing his lay figure in hot sunlight at his home in Stockwell. His wife. Emma. and their daughter. Catherine, posed for the main group.

The sheep, brought over each day from Clapham Common, ate all the flowers in his garden and the hot sunshine gave the artist a fever. Brown was not the first, nor the last, Pre-Raphaelite to discover the trials of working out of doors. The rich, sun-drenched effect was. as Brown insisted, the main subject of this picture but, if so, it is not obvious why the figures are dressed in eighteenth century costume. The Ashmolean picture, painted in the studio of Thomas Seddon in 1852, is a small replica of the original, now in Birmingham. The background probably shows the appearance of the Birmingham picture before the landscape in it was extensively repainted in 1859 by the artist.

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