Work - Heather Schepers JINS316 Gately Brown's Work Depicts...

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-1Heather Schepers JINS316 Gately Brown’s Work Depicts Stereotypical Attitudes and Actions of All Classes WORK! which beads the brow, and tans the flesh… Ah me! For lack of it what ills in leash… For want of work, the fiends soon inmesh! Ah! beauteous tripping dame with bell-like skirts, Intent on thy small scarlet-coated hound, Are ragged wayside babes not lovesome too? Untrained, their states reflects on thy deserts, Or they grow noisome beggars to abound, Or dreaded midnight robbers, breaking though. (By Brown, included Bendiner, 156). This sonnet by Ford Madox Brown accompanies and discusses the subjects in his watercolor Work , a painting that explores the value of the work ethic in the laboring men. Brown, a middle class emigrant that believed in the value of physical labor, therefore he would have most likely appreciated the poor workers. Brown was an associate of a group of artists that sought to emulate Italian art before Raphael, the aptly named Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (111). Bendiner, an extensive source of Brown’s work, states that Work was an oil on canvas painting Brown painted between 1852 and 1865, and included a 5-page Catalogue and the sonnet reproduced in part above (151). Barringer, author of The Pre-Raphaelite Reader , claims that a few years after Brown started Work , Thomas Plint, a highly religious stockbroker, bought the work and asked Brown to paint Thomas Carlyle, the social critic that wrote Past and Present as a one subjects (101). The complex Work depicts a busy street that is blocked, resulting in a crowd of divergent classes and genders. The congestion in the road is caused by several workers who are digging, yelling, or drinking in and around a deep trench meant for a sewage system. Most of the seven workers focus only on their work or the other workers. In fact the central placement
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and the sunlight on four of the workers, amplified by their bright clothing and sweaty skin, make them the focus of the painting. However, to the left side and rear, women, orphans, a beggar, academics and an aristocratic couple are gathered together in the resulting traffic jam. This allows Brown to include all of society in his biased narrative on value of labor. The working men seem every bit as ill-mannered and boisterous as the orphans that cling to them, though Brown treats them with a sort of reverence. These men are true working men: muscular, dirty, tanned, and risking danger. One clear example of the danger is the barely visible hand and shovel appearing from deep within the trench, below another man with a shovel. Surprisingly, Curtis counts four of the workers in the painting as redheaded, which is a clear indication of their Irish heritage. This is an accurate proportion, especially considering that on the right side of the workers are still more Irish, though unemployed, and according to Brown, sick (153). One laborer, in particular, is pointed out by Brown as being a “pride of manly health and beauty” (152). Thomas Carlyle, painted in as one of a the academics reasoned that any man
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Work - Heather Schepers JINS316 Gately Brown's Work Depicts...

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