Study of Arthur Madox Brown for the baby in 'Work'

Ford Madox Brown 1821-93

Coloured chalks, drawn July 1857

Accession number WAG 10510

chalk study of Arthur Madox Brown by Ford Madox Brown

Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery, 1984, with the assistance of the Art Fund

A study of the baby held by the ragged girl in the centre foreground of 'Work'. Brown's epic painting of Victorian life shows work in different aspects: the labourers exemplifying work, the rich who have no need to work and the poor who are out of work. The group of ragged children is at the bottom of the social scale: their mother being dead, the eldest girl has to look after them.

The artist began painting his baby son Arthur for the picture the day he was taken ill. He died of a brain infection, but Brown still included him in his oil painting. He changed the red ribbons to black to signify that in the picture he was motherless.

The oil painting 'Work' by Ford Madox Brown, 1852-63, can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery.