Ford Madox Brown
b. April 16, 1821, Calais
d. October 6, 1893, London
English painter, precursor and mentor to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Due to his strained relationship with the ultra-mercurial John Ruskin, he was never very popular, but his influence was far-reaching on a coming movement.
He was born in France to English parents, and studied in Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp, before settling Paris. He was influenced by the German Nazarenes, whom he met with while in Rome in 1848.
That same year, Dante Gabriel Rossetti left the Royal Academy to study under Brown. Legend has it that Rossetti's letter was so fawning that Brown believed it was actually making fun of him, and hunted the young painter down, carrying a stick to beat him with. However, Rossetti was able to convince Brown that he was sincere, and they were able to set up a working relationship. It was through this tutelage that Rossetti formed the idea of starting the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
He was never offically a member of the Pre-Raphaelite, being older than the original "Brothers," but he did share in their subject matter and belief in an intense naturalism characteristic of early Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
Brown was also a founding member of the Morris Co. of William Morris; he designed many stained glass windows for them.
His subject matter often focuses on either the working class and downtrodden people--such as the paintings "Work" or "Last of England"--or on what would become typical Pre-Raphaelite subject matter, namely medievalism and literary works like Shakespeare or Chaucer (including his apotheosis of English literature, "The Seeds and Fruits of English Poetry").
Brown was related to the author Ford Madox Ford, who was a grandson.
ed. note: last sentence corrected 2004-06-10 with the help of yclept. -- mkb