Work (1852-63) by Ford Madox Brown

Work - Ford Madox Brown - 1852 - 1863

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Artwork Information

ArtistFord Madox Brown
Date1852 - 1863
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions197.3 x 137 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationManchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UK
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About Work

Ford Madox Brown’s painting “Work” is considered to be one of his most significant works as a painter. It is a portrayal of the Victorian social system during the transition from a rural to an urban economy. The composition includes figures representing different classes of workers in Victorian society crowded together. It took over twelve years for Brown to produce the painting in his Pre-Raphaelite style but with content that aligned with William Hogarth’s satirical oeuvre.

The painting shows a raw depiction of childbirth, which was uncommon at the time. The artwork is also a profound meditation on the relationship between art, religion, and labor in Victorian society. There are two versions of “Work”; however, both share these core features.

In later years, Brown painted the Manchester Murals that depict Mancunian history – this appeared after “Work.” Overall, “Work” remains an excellent piece of artwork that reflects Britain’s 19th-century social system across several aspects such as economics and politics.

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