The Convalescent (A Portrait of the Artist's Wife)

Ford Madox Brown British, born France

Not on view

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.

The Convalescent (A Portrait of the Artist's Wife), Ford Madox Brown (British (born France), Calais 1820–1893 London), Pastel

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