Front Cover – Work (detail) – Ford Madox Brown 1852-65
Manchester’s City Art Gallery isn’t the greatest in the region but it does have a fine collection of pre-Raphaelites. Ford Madox Ford’s Work is one of the best; probably his masterpiece. The card alongside it reads:
One day as Brown walked to his Hampstead studio he caught sight of a group of navvies digging a drain. He had been reading Thomas Carlyle’s Past and Present which discusses the nobility of labour. It occurred to him that the navvies were as worth painting as any group of picturesque Italian peasants who graced the walls of the London Galleries.
He made these constructors of the modern world the central focus of his painting surrounding them with those who do not need to work or are deprived of meaningful work.
In contrast on the right (not shown on our cover) Thomas Carlyle watches as he converses with the Reverend F.D. Maurice, founder of the first college for working men. These are brainworkers, the cause of purposeful work and happiness in others.
Brainworker Carlyle, on the extreme right (significantly?) far from inspiring happiness in others in fact looks quite shifty. Reading Tom’s strangulated prose is not recommended to any modern seeker of happiness either. Another Ford fan is Weatherspoons who have named a pub in Oxford Road Manchester – The Ford Madox Brown. A mouthful perhaps – but memorable.