Ford Madox Brown

The Manchester murals and the matter of history

Author: Colin Trodd

This book argues that Ford Madox Brown’s murals in the Great Hall, Manchester Town Hall (1878–93), were the most important public artworks of their day. Brown’s twelve designs on the history of Manchester, remarkable exercises in the making of historical vision, were semi-forgotten by academics until the 1980s, partly because of Brown’s unusually muscular conception of what History Painting should set out to achieve. This book explains the thinking behind the programme and indicates how each mural contributes to a radical vision of social and cultural life. It documents how Brown’s pictorial innovations relate to Thomas Carlyle’s model of history and it indicates how the Manchester murals questioned the verities of British liberalism.

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