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Wood Engraving - Down Stream - Main Illustration (Last Year's First of May) - Published

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1912P49
Collection:Fine Art Prints and Drawings
Date:1871 - 1871

Maker Information

After a design by:Ford Madox Brown - View biography for Ford Madox Brown
Engraver:C M Jenkin - View biography for C M Jenkin
Publisher:British and Colonial Publishing Company - View history


Ford Madox Brown made two illustrations for 'Downstream' a poem by Rossetti published in 1871 in the short-lived magazine 'The Dark Blue.' The poem tells the tale of a woman seduced and left pregnant by a man on the first of May. By the first of June the next year she has drowned herself and her baby in desperation.

Rossetti was evidently very pleased with the illustrations and wrote to tell his brother William: 'I'm Dark Blued at last, owing to Brown, who was asked to illustrate something of mine for them if I would contribute' (Letter dated September 10, 1871 in W. M. Rossetti, ed., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family-Letters, vol. 2, p. 246). To Brown he enthused, 'I expect to see you in a few days, but must meanwhile write to say how very excellent I think your drawing in 'Dark Blue.' It is like a tenderer kind of Hogarth and seems to me the most successful of your book illustrations' (F. M. Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown: A Record of his life and Works, pp. 263-64). The main illustration shows the scene of seduction and for Hueffer was 'by far the most powerful-perhaps the most powerful of Madox Brown's 'amorous' designs.'

Presented by Charles Fairfax Murray, 1912.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
Medium:Wood engraving on paper.

Associated People


Height:135 mm
Width:225 mm

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