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 gives a good idea of the composition. Prince Azo is bending over Parisina contemplating killing her as she sleeps. The pencil sketch for a woman lying on her back but her head raised to the right of the main study suggests that Brown may still have been experimenting with poses at this point. LM

  • Bequeathed by James Richardson Holliday, 1927.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Ford Madox Brown -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
Monogram bottom left Handwritten 1842 According to Stephen Wildman (1993) it is retrospectively dated.. Pencil.


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
Visions of Love and Life
Stephen Wildman 1995 Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia p. 74, fig. 16
Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle
Ray Watkinson, Teresa Newman 1991 Chatto and Windus, London repr. pl. 19
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

Related work & resources

Discuss this work

Start a discussion about this work.

You need to login to discuss this work. Click here to login.

If you are not yet registered click here to become a member.
Find out more about membership