Having successfully experimented with depicting women in eighteenth-century costume in previous compositions such as 'The Infant's Repast,' (1848, Wightwick Manor) Brown chose to continue this theme for his first 'en plein air painting', 'Pretty Baa-lambs' . In earlier paintings he had, like other Pre-Raphaelite artists, painted the landscape outdoors but the figures in the studio. In 'Pretty Baa-lambs' Brown went further and posed his models outdoors, wanting to depict on canvas the effect of bright sunlight exactly as he found it in nature. He described working on the painting in his diary noting that 'The baa lamb picture was painted almost entirely in sunlight which twice gave me a fever while painting. I used to take the lay figure out every morning & bring it in at night or if it rained. Emma sat for the lady & Kate for the child. The lambs & sheep used to be brought every morning from Clappam [sic] common in a truck. One of them eat [sic] up all the flowers one morning in the garden where they used to behave very ill. The background was painted on the common. The medium I used was Robersons undrying copal (Flake White)' (Virginia Surtees,ed., 'The Diary of Ford Madox Brown,' p. 76).The landscape was later retouched but a smaller version at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, gives an idea of its original appearance. The meaning of the painting remains ambiguous, Brown insisted that 'this picture was painted out in the sunlight; the only intention being to render the effect as well as my powers in a first attempt of this kind would allow,' however, it also combined the theme of motherhood with an interest in the eighteenth-century, both of which had preoccupied him for the previous two years ('The Exhibition of Work and other Paintings by Ford Madox Brown,' p. 6).His second wife Emma and their daughter Cathy posed for the mother and child, and Brown hired the sheep from a local farmer.LM

  • Purchased, 1956.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist Ford Madox Brown -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
F Madox Brown 1851-59
Signature and date bottom right Painted 1859 Red paint.


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
1291 Royal Academy, London 1852 - 1852
Works by Living Artists
55 Academy of Arts, Newcastle 1852 - 1852
Works by Modern Artists
241 St Enoch's Hall, Glasgow 1854 - 1855
35th Exhibition
3 Liverpool Academy of Arts 1859 - 1859
The Exhibition of Work and other Paintings by Ford Madox Brown
11 191 Piccadilly, London 1865 - 1865
A Pre-Raphaelite Collection
11 Goupil Gallery, London 1896-06 - 1896-07
Collected Works by Ford Madox Brown
16 Hogarth Room, The Leicester Galleries, London 1909-06 - 1909-07
Ford Madox Brown 1821-1893
22 Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 1964 - 1964
Romantic Art in Britain: Paintings and Drawings 1760-1860
212 Detroit Institute of Fine Arts 1968 - 1968
212 Philadelphia Museum of Art 1968 - 1968
Paintings in the Leathart Collection
17 Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne 1968 - 1968
Royal Academy Bicentenary
378 Royal Academy, London 1968 - 1969
Pre-Raphaelite Patrons in the North East
10 Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne 1989 - 1990
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England
18 Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington 1995-03-09 - 1995-05-07
18 Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio 1995-05-27 - 1995-07-16
18 Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington 1995-08-11 - 1995-10-15
18 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas 1995-11-04 - 1996-01-02
18 High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia 1996-01-23 - 1996-04-10
18 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 1996-05-25 - 1996-09-29
Theodor Fontane and the Visual Arts
31 Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin 1998 - 1998
Light: Art, Technology and Society in the Industrial Age, 1750-1900
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam 2000 - 2000
Love, Labour & Loss: 300 Years of Livestock Farming in Art
95 Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle 2002-07-20 - 2002-09-22
95 Royal Albert Memorial Museum 2002-10-05 - 2003-01-04
Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature
27 Tate Britain, London 2004-02-12 - 2004-05-03
27 Altes Museum 2004-06-12 - 2004-09-19
27 Fundacion 'la Caixa' 2004-10-06 - 2005-01-09
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
27 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 08-08-23 - 08-12-14
The Pre-Raphaelites
76 Nationalmuseum 2009-02-26 - 2009-05-24


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
The Exhibition of Work and other Paintings by Ford Madox Brown
Ford Madox Brown 1865 Published privately by the artist pp. 6-7
Ford Madox Brown: A Record of his Life and Works
F M Hueffer 1896 Longmans, Green and Co., London p. 74ff.
A Pre-Raphaelite Collection
1896 The Goupil Gallery, London p. 15
Pre-Raphaelite Diaries and Letters
William Michael Rossetti 1900 Hurst and Blackett Limited, London pp. 108-14
Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
William Holman Hunt 1905 Macmillan and Co., London and New York vol. I, p. 277
Catalogue of an Exhibition of Collected Works by Ford Madox Brown with preface and Notes by Mr. Ford Madox Hueffer
1909 The Leicester Galleries, London p. 31-32
Ford Madox Brown 1821-1893
Mary Bennett 1964 Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool pp. 16-17; repr. pl. 5
Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite History Picture
Lucy Rabin 1978 Garland Publishing, New York and London p. 206-214, pl. 70
The Diary of Ford Madox Brown
Virginia Surtees 1981 Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art p. 74ff.
Art: A History of changing Style
Sara Cornell 1983 Phaidon, Oxford p. 342, repr. Fig. 417
Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle
Raymond Watkinson, Teresa Newman 1991 Chatto and Windus, London pp. 58-61ff.
Visons of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection
Stephen Wildman 1995 Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia p. 109
The Art of Ford Madox Brown
Kenneth Bendiner 1998 The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvannia p. 135
The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape
Allen Staley 2001 Yale University Press, New Haven and London pp. 22ff.
Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature
Allen Staley, Christopher Newall 2004 Tate, London pp. 67-68; repr. p. 68
Pre-Rapahelite Painting Techniques
Jacqueline Ridge, Joyce Townsend, Stephen Hackney 2004 Tate Gallery Publishing, London pp. 128-33
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
Laura MacCulloch, Tessa Sidey 2008 D. Giles Limted. London p. 55
Ford Madox Brown: The Unofficial Pre-Raphaelite
Angela Thirlwell 2008 D. Giles Limted. London pp. 12-13
The Pre-Raphaelites
2009 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm cat.76,p.187; fig.82


Purchased from the artist by James Leathart 1859 (sold 1896); H. Yates Thompson; Mr E. M. Thompson (sold Sotheby's 27 June 1956, lot 81); bought Colnaghi

Associated people

Name Type
Mrs Emma Madox Brown Depicted
Catherine Madox Brown Depicted

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