As Brown’s mistress in the late 1840s, Emma Hill (1829–1890) was a favorite model, but after their 1853 marriage, alcoholism affected her appearance. When he made this pastel, the artist wrote, “Now that she is lying in bed thinned with the fever she looks very pictorial and young as ever again.” Older than the founding Pre-Raphaelites, Brown sympathized with their agenda and was particularly close to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Echoing the latter’s sensibility, he here added a sensual quality to a meditation on life’s fragility. Emma is shown holding a bunch of pansies or violets. In the autumn of 1872, following the wedding of Cathy, her twenty-two year old daughter, to German musicologist Franz Hueffer, Emma succumbed to an infection and became dangerously ill. The artist made this work during her long recovery. There are two nearly identical versions of the drawing, the other in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK.
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Title:The Convalescent (A Portrait of the Artist's Wife)
Artist:Ford Madox Brown (British (born France), Calais 1820–1893 London)
Henry Boddington (British), by 1891 and in 1909; Vendor: Ernest Brown & Philips Vendor: Through Roger Eliot Fry (British)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design," May 20–October 26, 2014.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints: Anniversary Highlights," October 8, 2020–January 18, 2021.
Whitworth Wallis, Arthur Bensley Chamberlain, E. C. Osborne and Son Catalogue (with descriptive notes and illustrations) of the Permanent Collection of Paintings in Oils and Watercolours and a Special Loan Collection of Modern Pictures. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1891, cat. no. 157, p. 62 ("Mrs. Ford Madox Brown, Lent by Mr. Henry Boddington. Chalk study of the artist's wife, her head resting on a pillow. Painted in 1872"; (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery version).
Cornell University Library "Subjects of Pictures and Drawings" in Ford Madox Brown Account Book Violet Hunt Papers, 1858-1962, Collection 4607. before 1893.
T. G. Wharton A Catalogue of the Household & Decorative Furniture, Works of Art, Books & Effects Belonging to the Distinguished Painter Ford Madox Brown To be sold upon the premises, No. 1, St. Edmund's Terrace, Regent's Park, May 29th, 30th & 31st. 1894, cat. no. 143, p. 10 (Pastel Drawing, "Convalescence" by F. Madox Brown, 1872; Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery version).
Ford Madox Ford Ford Madox Brown: A Record of His Life and Work. London, 1896, pp. 271, 275-6, 281.
Exhibition of the Works of Ford Madox Brown. Grafton Galleries, London, 1897, cat. no. 87, p. 37 ("Convalescent" [Lent by] H. Boddington, Esq."; MMA version).
Roger Eliot Fry "Principal Accessions: The Convalescent, A Portrait of His Wife, by Ford Madox Brown." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. vol. 4, no. 12, December 1909, p. 226.
Ford Madox Ford Catalogue of an Exhibition of Collected Works by Ford Madox Brown. Leicester Galleries, June–July 1909, No. 43 (Convalescent. Lent by H. Boddington, Esq. Drawn in 1872. Pastel, 18 1/4 x 17 1/4 inches. A Portrait of Mrs. Madox Brown"; MMA version).
Andrea Rose Pre-Raphaelite Portraits. Yeoville, Somerset and Newbury Park, Ca., 1981, p. 24 ("The Artist's Wife in Convalescence," (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery version), ill.
Teresa Newman, Ray Watkinson Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle. Chatto & Windus, 1991, pp. 164-5, and fig. 141 (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery version), ill.
Stephen Wildman, Jan Marsh, John Christian Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England. Exh. cat., Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia. 1995, cat. no. 9, p. 281 ( version in City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK), ill.
Kenneth Bendiner The Art of Ford Madox Brown. 1998, pp. 113, 120 (mentioned in "Chronology of Ford Madox Brown's Works, 1872.".
Kenneth Bendiner The Art of Ford Madox Brown. University Park, Pennsylvania, 1998, p. 120 (in list of works made in 1872).
Tim Barringer, Angela Thirlwell, Laura MacCulloch Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite: Works on paper by Ford Madox Brown from the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Tessa Sidey, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 2008, pp. 24, 61, 66, cat. no. 50 and B55 (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery version), ill.
Mary Bennett Ford Madox Brown: A Catalogue Raisonné. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Yale University Press, 2010, cat. no. B44.1, p. 387, vol. II (MMA version; said here to be untraced and executed in February 1873 [Hueffer says January 1873]; cat. B44, illustrated, is (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery version).
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