In 1845 Brown began work on a large painting called 'The Seeds and Fruits of English Poetry.' Initially Brown envisaged a triptych in homage to English poets, the wings filled with famous poets and the central panel depicting Geoffrey Chaucer reading to the Court of Edward III. In the end, the project took too long to complete and Brown abandoned the wings. The central scene became 'Chaucer at the Court of Edward III' (1851, oil on canvas, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney).These two hand studies are for figures in the central panel and one of the unfinished wings. The top study is for Shakespeare who was depicted in one of the wings holding the masks of comedy and tragedy from strings in his hands. The second hand study is for Gower who sits in the bottom right hand corner of the final painting, animatedly discussing Chaucer's work.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 London/47
Signature and date bottom right Handwritten 1847 Brown ink over pencil inscription: 'Chaucer at the ...'


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. 33
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
Laura MacCulloch, Tessa Sidey 2008 D. Giles Limited, London p. 65

Associated people

Name Type
William Shakespeare Associated with
John Gower Associated with

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