An English Autumn Afternoon. Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893). 1854. Oil on canvas, H 71.2 x W 134.8 cm. Birmingham MuseumsTrust. Accession no. 1916P2, presented by the Public Picture Gallery Fund. Identified as being in the public domain: Creative Commons Zero licence (CC0). Reproduced from Art UK, with caption material and text added by Jacqueline Banerjee.

Ford Madox Ford explains, in his record of his maternal grandfather's life and work, that The English Autumn Afternoon was "begun from my back window" in September of the same year [1852], and was very nearly completed before the autumn tints had quite departed. It was completed in the autumns of the succeeding years" (83). He goes on to quote the artist's own note on the work, partly for its "amusing discursiveness":

This was painted in the autumns of 1852 and 1853, and finished, I think, in 1854. It is a literal transcript of the scenery round London, as looked at from Hampstead. The smoke is seen rising half way above the fantastic shaped, small distant cumuli which accompany particularly fine weather. The upper portion of the sky would be blue, as seen reflected in the youth's hat, the grey mist of autumn only rising a certain height. The time is 3 P.M., when late in October the shadows already lie long, and the sun's rays (coming from behind us in this work) are preternaturally glowing, as in rivalry of the foliage. The figures are peculiarly English — they are hardly lovers — mere boy and girl neighbours and friends. In no other country would they be so allowed out together, save in America, where (if report says true) the young ladies all carry latch-keys; both of us true inheritors from the Norsemen of Iceland, whose ladies would take horse and ride for three months about the island, without so much as a presumptuous question on their return from the much tolerating husbands of the period. [83]

Not without reason, Brown describes the painting as "perhaps his most important landscape" (82).

Link to related material


An English Autumn Afternoon. Art UK. Web. 10 July 2022.

Ford, Ford Madox. Ford Madox Brown: A Record of His Life and Work. London: Longmans, 1896. Internet Archive. Contributed by Robarts Library, University of Yoronto. Web. 21 December 2021.

Created 29 March 2024