The Last of England (1855) by Ford Madox Brown

The Last of England - Ford Madox Brown - 1855

Artwork Information

TitleThe Last of England
ArtistFord Madox Brown
MediumOil on panel
Dimensions32 1/2 x 29 1/2 in (82.5 x 74.9 cm)
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationBirmingham Museums and Art Gallery

About The Last of England

“The Last of England,” an artwork by Ford Madox Brown created in 1855, is an oil on panel reflecting the Romanticism art movement. With dimensions of 32 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches (82.5 x 74.9 cm), this genre painting is held in the collection of the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

The artwork portrays a poignant scene of emigration, capturing a couple’s final moments before leaving England, which is suggested by the title. They are depicted on the deck of a ship, suggested by the presence of a ship’s rigging, and the choppy sea beyond them. The couple huddles close together, enveloped in thick, heavy coats to defend against the biting sea air. The woman cradles an infant in her arms, shielding the child from the harsh environment. Her gaze, wistful and introspective, echoes the emotional weight of departure and the uncertainty of their future. The man, with his downcast eyes and gloved hand covering his mouth, exudes contemplation and a deep sense of melancholy.

Vivid details like the bright red of the woman’s scarf and the intricate patterns on her shawl add to the artwork’s visual richness, while also serving to draw the viewer’s attention to the central figures. In the background, other passengers and emigrants are visible, each absorbed in their personal experience of the journey. The somber colors and dramatic, overcast sky contribute to the overall mood of foreboding and solemnity that pervades the scene. This work is not merely a snapshot of Victorian emigration but also serves as an evocative symbol of change, loss, and the emotional impact of leaving one’s homeland behind.

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