In 1856 Brown was commissioned to illustrate Byron's poem 'The Prisoner of Chillon' by the Dalziel brothers for the anthology 'Poets of the Nineteenth Century' by Reverend Robert Avis Willmott. Early in his career he had depicted a scene from the poem in an oil painting (1843, oil on canvas, Manchester Art Gallery), but for the new illustration he created a completely different composition. This is the only illustration whose progress is recorded from start to finish in Brown's diary. His entries reveal that Brown applied himself as seriously to illustrating as he did to painting, making numerous studies and spending a vast amount of time on the project. The Birmingham collection holds two of his studies: an early compositional study (1927P353) and a study of a corpse (1927P352). Both Brown and the brothers Dalziel appear to have been pleased with his illustration as this was the first of three collaborative projects.LM

  • Presented by Charles Fairfax Murray, 1912.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
After a design by Ford Madox Brown -
Engraver - Dalziel Brothers


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
Signature bottom left Handwritten 1857


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
36 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 2008-08-27 - 2008-12-14


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
The Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Reverend Robert Avis Willmott 1862 George Routledge and Sons, London -
English Illustration: 'The Sixties 1855-70'
Gleeson White 1897 Archibald Constable and Co., London p. 106
The Brothers Dalziel. A Record of Work in Conjuction with many of the most distinguished Artists of the Period 1840-1890
Edward Dalziel, George Dalziel 1901 Methuen and Co., London pp. 120, 122
Illustrators of the Sixties
Forrest Reid 1928 Faber & Gwyer, London pp. 48-49
Pocket Cathedrals: Pre-Raphaelite Book Illustration
Susan P Casteras 1991 Yale Center for British Art, New Haven 1991 pp. 14, 17, 104
Victorian Illustrated Books 1850-1870: the Heyday of Wood-engraving
Paul Goldman 1994 British Museum Press, London p. 82; repr. Fig. 2
Pre-Raphaelite Prints
Rodney Engen 1995 Lund Humphries, London pp. 108-109; repr. p. 108
Victorian Illustration: the Pre-Raphaelites, the Idyllic School and the High Victorians
Paul Goldman 1996 Scolar Press, Aldershot pp. 9-10, 364, 370, repr. p. 38
The British Pre-Raphaelite Illustrators
Gregory Suriano 2005 Oak Knell Press, Newcastle, USA and the British Library, London, UK pp. 36, 41 & 306, repr. p. 64
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
Laura MacCulloch, Tessa Sidey 2008 D. Giles Limited, London pp. 57, 68; repr. p. 35

Associated people

Name Type
Lord Byron Author

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