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His last chance to establish ‘modern’ history painting, with the Napoleonic Wars and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson.
With ‘modern history paintings’ long behind him, he turned to literary subjects and classical histories once more.
He took a break from ‘modern history’ painting in the 1780s, making religious works and even some landscapes, including some unknown gems.
Includes his record of William Penn making his treaty with the Lenape, a strange family portrait, and an obscure naval battle.
A Pennsylvanian, he wanted to be a great history painter. When returning from a visit to Italy, he stopped off in London, and stayed there almost 60 years.
His most famous painting, ‘Work’, inspired by the ideas of Thomas Carlyle, and a possibly unique example of multiplex narrative after William Hogarth.
By 1852, he wasn’t making progress. The Pre-Raphaelite sculptor emigrated to Australia, and Brown thought seriously about going to India. Instead he painted ‘The Last of England’.
From Byron’s Faustian play ‘Manfred’ to the effects on family of the Crimean War, his paintings were often richly narrative, and only gently Pre-Raphaelite.
Charles knelt at the altar in front of the Pope on Christmas Day 800. When he rose, he was wearing the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. A surprise perhaps?