The Last of England, painted by Ford Madox Brown in 1855, is an oil-painting on panel that depicts a couple emigrating from England to Australia with their baby. The painting shows the psychological and emotional hardships faced by emigrants, as the couple looks sad and forlorn while they are leaving their homeland behind. The oval format painting is currently located at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Ford Madox Brown was inspired to create this painting by his close friend Thomas Woolner who had himself emigrated to Australia in 1852. The couple depicted in the painting is modeled after the artist and his wife Emma. Brown uses symbolic elements of a sinking ship in the background, which can be interpreted as representing Britain as it goes through political upheaval while its citizens leave for a new beginning.
The Last of England has been widely recognized as one of Brown’s most significant works that emotionally portrays Victorian-era society’s struggles during migration. The painting provides insight into how people faced many conflicts before finally leaving home on life-altering journeys toward new horizons. This artwork highlights not only human emotions but also serves both historical and artistic purposes, showcasing a dynamic amalgam of beauty and sadness caused by personal transformation or circumstantial imposition upon individuals’ lives during global political changes such as empire building days when Britain was flourishing under colonialism.