This is one of three studies in the Birmingham collection for the painting 'Parisina's Sleep' (now lost). They were made in 1842 when Brown was living in Paris. The picture was based on a poem of the same name by Byron which tells the tale of Prince Azo who executed his wife, Parisina, after discovering her adulterous affair with his illegitimate son, Hugo. The scene Brown chose to depict is the one in which Prince Azo first hears Parisina talk of Hugo in her sleep. In his rage he contemplates murdering her. The painting was rejected from the Paris Salon ion 1843 but it was exhibited at the British Institution two years later where it received some admiration. This study is for the head of Parisina. Although Brown studied in Belgium and lived in Paris he insisted in his 1865 one-man exhibition that the painting was inspired by the works of the Spanish masters and Rembrandt which he saw on numerous visits to the Louvre (Ford Madox Brown, 'The Exhibition of Work and other Paintings,' 1865, p. 17). This study gives a glimpse of these influences in the touches of white chalk adding dramatic lighting to the scene. LM

  • Purchased and presented by subscribers, 1906.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Ford Madox Brown -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
Ford M Brown 1842 (Paris)
Signature and date bottom right Handwritten 1842 Brown ink.


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
2 Seattle Art Museum 1995-03-09 - 1995-05-07
2 Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio 1995-05-27 - 1995-07-16
2 Delaware Art MuseumDelaware Art Museum, Wilmington 1995-08-11 - 1995-10-15
2 The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 1995-11-04 - 1996-01-02
2 High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia 1996-01-23 - 1996-04-10
2 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 1996-05-26 - 1996-09-29


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: Catalogue of the Permanent Collection of Drawings
A E Whitley 1939 Bemrose & Sons Ltd, Derby p. 27
Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle
Ray Watkinson, Teresa Newman 1991 Chatto and Windus, London repr. pl. 20
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
Stephen Wildman 1995 Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia p. 74, repr. p. 75
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
Laura MacCulloch, Tessa Sidey 2008 D. Giles Limited, London p. 68

Associated people

Name Type
Lord Byron Author

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