Study of Emma for 'Work'

WAG 10511


This is a study of Ford Madox Brown's wife Emma for his painting 'Work'. She is looking more mature in years and with a narrow high fronted bonnet. It must date from the later 1850's, certainly after the new commission of 'Work'. It is for the head of the young woman at the left of the picture holding a parasol and looking slightly down as she follows a safe foothold past the central group of navvies representing physical labour. Madox Brown described her role in his lengthy descriptive note on the picture as one 'whose only business in life as yet is to dress and look beautiful for our benefit'. The fine pencilling captures the delicacy of her complexion and softness of her hair under the almost moving shadow thrown by the scalloped edge of her parasol. The inscription 'To Cathy' suggests that this may perhaps have been a wedding present to their daughter.